9. The Internet Part 2: Social Media and “Sharing”
One theory that has emerged as an explanation for all of the celebrity deaths in 2016 is related to the above theory about the optical illusion of the Internet. It comes down to the power of social media and, ultimately, how quickly news travels around the World Wide Web thanks to the concept of sharing. Sharing is caring, right? We love to participate in the most culturally relevant topics of the moment, whether by Tweeting RIP [enter celebrity name] or by sharing an article on all of the departed celebrity’s lasting impacts.
As humans, we hate to feel left out. We want to be part of something. If the excellent 2016 dark comedy Search Party has taught us anything (and we suggest that you watch it if you haven’t already), it is that, often times, we share without even really thinking or feeling much at all. News sites make it so easy to simply click and share these days. This is one possible reason why it feels like so many celebrities have passed away this year.
8. The Internet Part 3: Social Media Turns Celebrity Deaths Into Emotional Events
Another theory related to social media comes from The Guardian. They suggest that the reason for the seemingly unparalleled number of celebrity deaths in 206 is due to the fact that social media has the power to amplify emotions once a beloved celebrity passes away. They write, “Sudden emotional impulses are amplified with astonishing speed across the internet just as they can be in a crowd. Each apparently solitary smartphone user is really sharing other people’s emotion as well as their own.” In this way, the other side of the social media is that the fact that it makes it possible for celebrity deaths to become an emotional event. By sharing inspirational quotes, some of us react to these events very viscerally. This then creates a strong impression in our mind and we often get the impression that a lot of celebrities have passed away because of this strong emotional reaction.