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Three questions we need to ask ourselves before sharing comments about famous people

Few celebrity interviews have drawn as much worldwide attention as Oprah's recent sit-down with Harry and Meghan, which should come as no surprise. These people have a level of worldwide recognition and fame that far surpasses most world leaders and even most entertainers.

With fame comes critics, with criticism comes controversy, and with controversy comes conversations among the masses. And in those conversations, people often feel free to say things to or about famous people that they wouldn't say to or about someone they know in real life. It's easy to dehumanize celebrities who seem so different from the average person, and since they're never going to see what we say, it doesn't really matter anyway, right?

The problem is that others—people we actually care about—do see what we say. And it does matter to them.


Social media is currently filled with reactions to Meghan Markle sharing how the abusive British tabloids and lack of support she had from the palace led to her having suicidal thoughts. While some celebrate her courage in speaking out, some have called her a "drama queen." Some say she's an attention-seeking narcissist. Some scoff at her claims, questioning how she could be suffering so much when she literally lived in a palace with a handsome prince, wanting for nothing.

Meghan will never see the vast majority of those comments. But other people who struggle with suicidal thoughts will. People who live economically privileged lives and those who don't. People who have good marriages and those who don't. If we call Meghan Markle a drama queen for sharing that she felt suicidal, what people who also struggle with those thoughts will see is that we can't be counted on for support. They'll see that we might judge and dismiss their feelings as undeserved at best or manufactured at worse. They'll see that we can't be trusted.

That doesn't just apply to Meghan Markle and suicidal thoughts. People play fast and loose with celebrity commentary all the time, and when our comments involve things like mental health or other struggles that are common to the general population, what we say matters because it can impact people we truly care about.

Here are three questions we need to ask ourselves before we comment critically about a famous person.

1) Am I criticizing them for something they did/said, or something they're going through?

There's a big difference between calling out a problematic behavior or a harmful statement someone has made and criticizing someone for sharing a personal experience. When we have a dislike for someone famous, that line can get blurred, but it's an important distinction.

When we criticize a famous person for something they're going through—a mental health crisis, struggles with addiction, abuse, or loss—we're making a judgment about something we aren't in a position to judge. And our judgment has the potential to hurt everyone who's going through something similar.

2) Is the thing they're talking about a common struggle?

People often dismiss celebrity struggles because they seem to "have it all" and live above everything. But they don't.

Famous people are people. Their life may look different than ours in many ways, but they are human beings first, prone to the same mental and emotional experiences as everyone else.

Mental health issues, addiction, racism, sexism, loss, grief, and other struggles don't discriminate by class. Fame and privilege of wealth or status don't shield people from any of those issues, and sometimes the reality of celebrity can make some of those issues worse.

Look at Anthony Bourdain, for example. He had plenty of money and the coolest job in the world, traveling the globe and exploring delicious food everywhere he went. But he died by suicide. And he's certainly not alone.

If there's one thing that connects us all, it's these common human experiences that anyone—rich or poor, famous or not—can find themselves in.

3) If I have a loved one who has experienced the same or a similar struggle, how would they feel if I directed this comment to them?

When a loved one who struggles with suicidal thoughts sees us criticizing someone else's struggles with suicidal thoughts, what does that say to them? Will they think of us as a safe, supportive person they can go to? Or will they be afraid we will dismiss their feelings as being "overly dramatic"?

When a loved one who has experienced racism sees us rolling our eyes at a famous person's experiences with racism, what does it say to them? Will they see us as someone who has their back?

When a loved one who has found themselves in an abusive situation sees us tell a famous person, "What did you expect? You knew what you were getting into," will they see us as a safe person to talk to?

Most of those struggles are endured silently, but they are definitely there and far more common than people think. Our loved ones are listening to our words, whether we're talking directly to them or commenting on a public social media page. Rethinking the way we talk about these things can save a lot of hurt feelings and avoid damaging our own relationships. If it's not something we'd say to or about someone we love, we're probably better off not saying it at all.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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