As I sat in my lazy boy channel surfing sports and relaxing on an otherwise boring Sunday, the text came through from a friend..."R.I.P. Kobe". My first thought was, "what did he do?" I honestly thought he was in trouble for something. The channel I was watching hadn't mentioned the event or cut away, so I was completely unaware. When I turned to the mothership (ESPN), there it was...Kobe had passed away. I thought "is this real life?"
I was never a Kobe fan, mainly because of his pre-fatherhood personal life, yet there I was in complete shock. How could this be? Sadness of how someone could die so young. Then the news broke about his daughter, and all the others. What a somber day.
And then the assholes crawled out of their holes...ready to pounce with judgement and shame. Posting 15 year old articles of Marines dying saying "this is who you should be mourning", rehashing old news articles almost 15 years old about the rape case. I thought "what the hell is going on?" Do people really think it's appropriate to start badmouthing a man that literally just died? Is this the society you want to live in, with all your hate and judgment where we don't even respect each other enough to pause for a moment after you pass? Is there not enough division thanks to politics?
I like to lump the people that say "thoughts and prayers" after every tragedy with the people that start posting negative things about the person that just passed into the same category. We live in a narcissistic and self centered society, this is the byproduct of a social media driven world, both these groups of people are saying the same thing. "Something terrible happened today, don't forget about me." Yes, Anthony Jeselnik, a comedian, said this in one of his comedy specials about the "thoughts and prayers" people but really it's about both groups. The reporter suspended from the Washington Post for republishing an old article about the rape case doesn't give a damn about the Kobe Bryant rape case, otherwise she'd be talking about it regularly. She hasn't said one word about the case in many many years, only on the day he died. She wanted attention, simply put.
So here's my stance, don't feel bad for feeling bad when a celebrity dies. You can respect the troops and wish none of them died even if you don't openly mourn each and every soldier death, or random person's death. We couldn't possibly live normal lives and mourn every single death. Almost 2 people die every second of every day on the planet. Do these social media warriors seriously mourn every single one of them? So why are they asking you to?
The fact is, mega sports stars feel like a part of our life...and in many cases they are. Diehard fans watch all 82 games plus the playoffs. Over the course of a career that's a ton of times that athlete was in your living room, tons of times you stood in front of the TV hoping he or she made that big play. Mourning a death of a super star like Kobe is....normal. Ignore the hatred, there's plenty of time in history to dissect his life and what it meant, whether good or bad. A society that disrespects humans that just died, is one destined to fail.
Let's be better as people, it starts with individuals.