It’s 3 AM and I’m angry. Actually, I’m not just angry but I’m sick. Sick, enraged, and hurt. Sick because of not what I’d eaten but after what I’d seen. Enraged because of my ability to comprehend other people’s emotions. Hurt, because it was done by a woman who is celebrated to be one of the most sought-after talk show hosts in the television industry. Ladies and gentlemen, as a former journalism student and content writer myself, there’s a thin line between jokes disguised in the form of disrespect that can’t be crossed. And that’s exactly what Wendy Williams did when she spoke about the death of a well-known Tik-Tokker who had amassed a million followers due to his creativity and authenticity as a creator. But that wasn’t the part I was mad about, rather the audacity in which the host claimed that the late TikToker had “more followers” than her.
Wow. (Insert Owen Wilson meme template with a dash of the Godfather effect). My question isn’t directed to Wendy but to the entire Journalism industry as a whole; How far can we go for the sake of views and ratings? Are we putting up content because we want to attain a certain amount of fame? And to sound even more prominent…Is there anyone in the editing aspect of the spectrum who oversees what the content represents before it is given the green signal to go onto the internet?
A few years ago, American model and television personality Chrissy Teigen, who is popularly known for her quick-witted comebacks at trolls on Twitter, went viral for the wrong reasons. In no way am I calling her out as I myself found some of her tweets funny, but there were a few that ticked me off because most of what she’d post were often overlooked. The model had once made a tweet about an award-winning child-actress Quvezhane’ Wallis, where the model stated “I’m supposed to like Quvezhane’ Wallis because she’s a child right? Okay fine.” How is this supposed to be funny? Where is the joke? Imagine gaining an appreciation for your talent, only for your hard work to be dismissed by another well-known celeb. To make matters worse, Chrissy herself is a mother of two and how would she feel if someone else had made fun of her own children?
Now look. No way am I trying to sound like a “miss know it all” who knows what Journalism is and isn’t. I’m still a novice at this point but if certain core elements in the ethics of journalism aren’t being valued, then why are students like me being taught this? Yes, it is a question that can land me in hot water, but it is pretty profound. Last time, it was brought to my attention by model and television host Padma Laxmi, who on Instagram, highlighted the disrespect shown by a journalist from a well-known organization towards Indian food and the culture as a whole. What makes this even more embarrassing is when another person points this out, which could potentially tarnish the reputation of the organization overall, especially in the media. What Wendy did was completely unforgivable when she should’ve used that time to respect the Tik-Toker’s family’s privacy when they were in mourning. To make matters worse, she didn’t even acknowledge her wrongdoing and still continued to document the unfortunate death of a social media star, comparing his followers to her own.
Greed. Jealousy. Envy. Three of the seven deadly sins that claw at your throat like a nightmare. They even tempt you into doing things that you shouldn’t do but you do them anyway because you want to fill that void in you with unlimited selfishness. Yup. I said it. I said it and you all know that this is a reality we all tend to overlook. From body shaming different celebs who might be grieving, to starting unwanted fake feuds on the net to garner more following to then comparing followers simply because we want to satiate that burning jealousy of need in us?
Appalling. That’s the word that blared through my mind when I wrote this, thinking about how the media of such caliber can do something as horrendous as this. Even though corrections have been made…the damage has already been done. All I ask, with my hands folded (literally, my hands are folded) is for us, the viewers, and every acclaimed media organization to do better. Make the world a better place. Strive to create content that aims to inspire and change the mindset of millions, across the globe.
In a way, having a large, appreciative audience base is a good motive. It keeps you motivated but that doesn’t mean one should get carried away by the thought of becoming famous overnight. Before sitting in front of your laptop or camera to create a new video, whether it’s for fun or because there’s an important message you wish to share, think twice.
Think twice before uploading your perceptions on the internet. Unfiltered or not and as cliche as it may sound, the ghosts of your past based on the digital footprint you leave…will always come back to haunt you.