When someone famous dies

It’s been quite interesting to watch how people on social media and in person react to the news when a famous person dies.  Prince died this week and to be honest, it really didn’t hit me at all because I never really connected to his music in any way.  He was monumentally talented and a great guitar player, but as I said, his music never had any effect on me.  So it was strange to sit back and watch the outpouring of support and memorials to someone I really hadn’t seen any of my “friends” online ever mention.  I don’t doubt that many were huge fans, but he hasn’t done much since the age of twitter so it makes sense.  I found that most of the week consisted of people being really affected by the news and sharing online while many of us who weren’t affected were texting one another saying “people are going crazy about this.”

At some point I had the thought, jeez these people are overreacting.  That was until I thought about how I felt when musicians I did connect with died.  But Jason, “you didn’t even know these people.”  That’s a line that comes up when referencing people’s reactions to when famous people die.  But here’s the thing.  I could argue that I spent more time in my room and my car with Layne Staley and his singing than I did with most of my friends and even most of my family.  There’s a reason when artists die the reaction is often more severe than when someone merely famous dies.  I’ve never had any real reaction when a president died or like when Steve Jobs died.  I mean, it’s sad anytime anyone dies, but to me artists share emotion through their works and that’s where the connection comes from.  There were people who were grieving to Prince’s passing this week who had danced to his songs at their senior proms, at their weddings, on roadtrips, and a million other life experiences.  That’s why their reactions were so visceral.

The other question I saw pop up this week was “does how someone dies effect your thoughts on them.”  For me, 99% of the time the answer is no.  If someone hurts or causes injury to others in the act of their death, that’s the exception.  But if they hurt themselves, or overdose, or cancer, or jump of a bridge, that doesn’t effect how I look at their life.  Because the death is only one part of the life.  And while it’s often the freshest memory at the time, it’s not what’s important.  I don’t care if Prince OD’d or had cancer or AIDS or slipped on a banana peel.  He impacted millions of people in a positive way.  How could that ever be a bad thing?  I’ve always hoped when I die be it at my own hand or from being so overweight or from a car crash or old age, that my friends and family would focus on the good times we shared.

Anyways, a bit rambling but I found the reaction on social media and my reaction to the reaction interesting and wanted to jot down some thoughts.