You may have heard the news that pop star Ariana Grande and comedian Pete Davidson have called off their engagement and broken up. We certainly have. Because it was impossible not to. This morning, we actually came across a website that had no less than seven articles about the breakup; all of which were posted within two hours. You couldn’t really miss it.
Grande and Davidson’s relationship has become something of a social media phenomenon over the past six months, with publications eagerly posting updates every time either of the twenty-somethings breathed in the other’s direction. The world couldn’t get enough of this depiction of love’s young dream, and Grande and Davidson seemed happy to oblige; with regular public displays of affection and declarations of love.
But their relationship was not all that was going on in the couple’s lives this year. Ariana Grande’s name has been unwillingly splashed across headlines for reasons far beyond her control. A terrorist attack on her concert in the Manchester arena, which took place in May 2017, left 22 attendees dead. Grande arranged a benefit concert for those affected just two weeks later. Then, in September of this year, Grande’s ex-boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller, died of a suspected drug overdose. It was reported after his death that Grande would be taking an extended break from the public eye to grieve and recover from the year’s events.
Meanwhile, Davidson, who has been outspoken in the past about his mental health and the effect of his father’s death in the 9/11 attacks, also took a break from social media during his and Grande’s relationship. The reason, he said, was because “the internet is an evil place and it doesn’t make me feel good.”
Ariana Grande is 25 years old. She has had to deal with an unbelievable amount of trauma and grief over the past 18 months, more than most people deal with in a lifetime. Now, as her breakup becomes public news, she is subjected to countless articles, tweets and unsolicited opinions about how her grief “meant the relationship couldn’t survive”, that her manager is “frustrated with her”, and the “tattoos she ought to reconsider” now that her relationship is over.
Pete Davidson is 24. He now has to read about how “he couldn’t ‘fix’ Grande” and that she “did the right thing by breaking up with him”.
This is, quite frankly, disgusting. Grande and Davidson are two young people who were in love and then broke up. It happens every single day. And yet, despite the fact they are most likely upset about the situation; despite the fact social media vitriol is obviously negatively affecting their lives; and despite the fact making jokes and listicles about a couple breaking up is horrible, people do not seem to care.
Reporting celebrity news is a tricky line to balance on. Public interest counts for a lot, and obviously, people are interested in the private lives of the rich and famous. But when public interest declines into public smearing, that’s when the line is crossed. We seem to forget the ‘celebrities’ we gossip about are, in fact, real people with emotions, and can see the hurtful things being said about them the same as we can. We’d be doing Grande and Davidson a big favour by shutting up about their breakup. We’d be doing ourselves a favour too.