1. They don’t believe that the celebrity deserves success.
Most individuals have no way to genuinely determine if someone deserves success or not. (In sports, at least there is a measure based on how someone plays/scores etc. In film/television, that is purely viewer opinion and marketing that will determine success—neither of which can be determined by a single individual.) Even if I do not enjoy anything Stephanie Meyer writes, I would not find extreme pleasure in her career collapsing. I find that there are some dangerous concepts that her literature promotes, but her fans feel otherwise. Her success or failure has no real bearing on my life. Even if the celebrity doesn’t deserve success, is it then a real reason to adamantly rejoice in their failure?
2. They think that it is only fair since the celebrity is rich.
Many people are reveling in the collapse of Tiger Woods’ and justify it by the fact that his net worth is in the billions. Simply because someone is wealthy doesn’t mean that people should derive pleasure from their personal failings or suffering.
3. It gives them something to talk about. There are people on Twitter where their entire stream is filled with insults of Tiger Woods, Rihanna etc. Now, if their Twitter account was created to only discuss things that happen to celebrities that would make more sense—but to discuss the issue, not tweet insult after insult. But why is it that nothing else is relevant to that person (at least in the public sphere)? Many people use Twitter to talk about what they are passionate about. What are those people truly passionate about I wonder?
4. It reinforces their own personal failing. Everyone makes mistakes and fail. It is inescapable for all of us. I will admit, I do not enjoy failure and I cannot state that I am thankful for nor will overly praise failure like many people do. I do learn though, so in that sense failure is important and relevant. (I think success can teach valuable lessons as well that shouldn’t be ignored.) However, once a celebrity has an affair, some people use that as a guiding principle for their own life. I have seen “if Tiger did it then everyone does” type of tweets. Really? Though infidelity is not new and affects many marriages as does issues with money (two of the most common causes for divorce), even if 1 single person does not cheat on their spouse then everyone does not do it. How a celebrity lives doesn’t have to be a personal guide for someone else’s life.
5. It gives them a perceived personal connection with the celebrity.
Because celebrity is so revered in our society above most else, the failings of celebrities may make them seem more human which is ok. But, to the point that people then perceive false relationships with a celebrity based on those failings is concerning. Many people in the Black community referred to President Clinton as a celeb and as a “Black” person because he cheated on his wife. Last time I checked, men (and women) of all races were capable of infidelity. What was even more troubling was that other Black men were the main ones who called him Black because of the affair. I guess they could not relate to any of his positive accomplishments, despite some of them having those same positive accomplishments! (College education, career, good relationship with his daughter.)
This isn’t to say that celebrity (or non-celebrity) behavior can’t be discussed. I engage in those conversations all of the time as I’ve spent some time studying human behavior. People talk about things for both exploration and gossip, both understanding and insulting. It happens. But when the conversation has an emotional source such as the reasons above, people perhaps should spend some of the conversation time as self-examination and self-exploration time.