A few days ago, I saw much conversation on social media about the public once again being angry toward TMZ. More recently, the organization has been criticized for its seeming need to always report first, disregarding that facts contained in stories may not be completely accurate, or the well-being of the parties involved. When Kobe Bryant and his oldest daughter, Gianna, passed away just a few weeks ago, several reports surfaced claiming that Vanessa found out from TMZ first about her family members passing away. It was a given that nearly everyone was angered by TMZ’s deliberate disregard and lack of courtesy, or consideration. Every single person alive today can relate to the pain of losing a loved one. A few days ago, I saw some interesting contrasts. Amanda Bynes, former Nickelodeon child star (one that I grew up watching myself, and who had a successful run as a teenage actress, particularly with children and pre-teens) has been in many a headline in the last few years, though not in relation to her acting. Her mental health struggles and substance abuse issues have been talked about at length for the whole world to see. She’s recently gotten engaged; and as TMZ sagely reported the other day, with an engagement ring that’s “an Amazon bargain,” (costing $49) to a man Amanda “met in AA and has only been dating for a few months.” The article goes on to report that Amanda’s family is not giving their blessing to the union, and that because her mom is her conservator, Amanda needs permission; what especially caught my eye was the commentary from those sharing the article, as well as the comment section within the TMZ article itself. On my personal social media feeds, pretty much every person I saw expressed feelings of disappointment that TMZ would mention Amanda’s involvement in AA. The comments section of TMZ was more telling. Comments claiming that it’s “funny” Amanda met someone at AA, or making unsolicited comments about her choice of getting a face tattoo were the norm. Why is it that nearly everyone could agree on exhibiting kindness and granting privacy (at least to an extent) as it pertained to Kobe Bryant, but don’t hold the same attitude toward Amanda Bynes? Stigma toward mental health and substance abuse manifests itself clearly, especially online, where it is easy to type a comment, and not see a person face-to-face. Tishanna Dillard, Marketing Operations Specialist
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