Carrie Fisher’s death on the eve of 2016 has resurrected the often overzealous community catharsis seen during last year’s string of popular celebrity deaths.
As per the 2016 trend of celebrity deaths, social media has been (and still is) congested by countless users tweeting their eternal sorrows over Fisher’s death.
I admit, as a Star Wars fan, I was shocked to hear that she had died. But while it is sad when actors, musicians, and athletes die, there is no reason for us to let these incidents affect us as much as some people do.
Movie stars are, to most of us, just that. Stars. They are distant, bright, inspiring, eternal only in our minds, but never as personal to us as those around us. Crying for hours over the death of someone you have never met or exchanged a single word with is a waste of tears and a slap in the face for those you interact with regularly.
I do not mean to advocate for total apathy towards someone’s death, nor am I suggesting that celebrities are not worthy of our appreciation.
It is hard to see people die because we do not typically imagine what life would be like without them, and the shock of realizing this hits hard. And when people devoted to a certain craft, such as film, die, it is difficult to imagine what work they could have accomplished were they still alive. But spamming social media with asinine posts about being gutted by their deaths is the least productive way to channel our feelings.
I believe that more often than not, people become attached to a work of art or a performance and mistake this connection for a personal one with the artist.
A fine line separates the two, but there is a major discrepancy between sharing a personal relationship with someone and having a professional appreciation for them. Confusing these two ideas leads people to act as if they have lost a friend rather than someone who helped create something they enjoy.
The lack of a personal connection between us and celebrities is no different from the lack of relationships we have with 99 percent of the world, and yet Twitter does not explode when a highly-skilled grocery bagger from Nashville dies of a heart attack.
People die daily and as nice as it is to try and remember them all fondly, it is too much to for any person to accomplish.
Each of us has our very own set of real, consequential troubles to worry about: homework, exams, work, social obligations, financial difficulties, eating, sleeping, and trying to talk on Inner Ring Road without getting side swept by a bicyclist. Though it is selfish to say (and not necessarily a bad thing), there is a lot more we can and should focus our energy on besides celebrities dying — most prominently, what we do with ourselves before we die.
The countless tributes to Fisher — as well as to many other stars who have died in recent years — compile and recognize her work in meaningful ways. With seven billion other people in the world, the most impactful way we can cherish an artist’s career is to appreciate her work long after she dies.
Respect celebrities’ time on this world by remembering how they chose to spend it, and save your tears for the big issues in life.
Isaac Espinosa is a second year electrical engineering major. He can be reached at email@example.com.