Opinion: We must be careful what we click for
PUBLISHED: 08:30 20 February 2020
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I have to admit, not being a Love Island fan I only really became aware of Caroline Flack with the police charges brought against her following an incident in her north London flat.
The outpouring of public grief following her tragic death appears to me indicative of several things.
Firstly, of course, she was a very popular figure and loved by great many people. I know people who would be mystified by the fact that I was affected, in a very real sense, by the deaths of Prince and David Bowie. The death of Princess Diana elicited real feelings in people. And people really are mourning Caroline Flack.
Secondly, there may be a distance to go still, but attitudes towards mental health have changed markedly in recent years. There's a widely-felt sadness that Caroline Flack didn't get the help she needed.
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Much as mental heath was neglected for decades, so was domestic violence. Whether the CPS erred in its prosecution in this instance may come out in time, but carrying forward prosecutions despite the victim's wishes is an important part of the justice system's approach to tackling domestic abuse.
Society's attitude to mental health may have shifted but has that of the media? Some parts of it, certainly, but the 'media' is not a single entity.
Was Caroline Flack's treatment by certain titles irresponsible and cruel at times? Almost certainly.
But those titles, at root, are not motivated by cruelty. They probed every aspect of Caroline Flack's life because they knew it produced successful 'content'. The online readership figures at our fingertips don't lie.
Parts of the media will have questions to answer. There has to be a duty to behave responsibly and compassionately beyond commercial interests. But we all have to think carefully about our choices. Every 'harmless' click on a bit of celebrity tittle-tattle feeds the monster.
Be careful what you click for.