Sunday, 10 February 2013

Misguided sympathy

This post is probably going to make me sound like a heartless cow.  I'll take the risk because it's a subject that annoys me no end.

We are constantly bombarded with newspaper reports of celebrities who have died or who are dying through alcohol or drug abuse.  

Follow this with endless Facebook and Twitter statuses containing an outpouring of grief and sympathy.   Why?  Did they actually know the person in question?  Of course not.  They somehow think that this is how they are expected to react.

The former footballer Paul Gascoigne is apparently at death's door in the US.  Here is just one article picked up from the Sun newspaper

This article is being shared all over Facebook with the usual overly sympathetic comments.  OK he was a brilliant footballer in his time, but people are putting him up on a pedestal now, making him out to be some sort of hero.   I find it sickening.

The reality is that this man has squandered his wealth and opportunities over the years.  He has been convicted for drunk driving, and he used to beat his wife.  He has entered rehab countless times and it has always failed.   His so-called celebrity friends who are rallying round now with donations towards his treatment are the same friends who encouraged him to drink over the years, along with the non-celebrity acquaintances who were happy to join him in getting drunk.  Delighted to help spend a weak man's money.

I know alcoholism is a disease.  I'm not completely unsympathetic.  I bet there are lots of alcoholics out there who would have jumped at the chance to enter rehab if they had had the sort of money that Gazza has wasted.  Some people cannot be saved from alcoholism but there are plenty who have recovered by sheer determination, quietly, without the help of rehab or other costly "cures".  They are the ones to be admired.

It's sad to see anyone waste their life in this way, but I have little sympathy when it's self-inflicted.  I'll save that  for those dying of cancer and other incurable diseases, through no fault of their own.  They don't have a choice.

24 comments:

  1. My initial reaction is to agree with you completely, but I know how I eat a chocolate bar when I shouldn't so can understand that feeling magnified a hundred times in the brain of an alcoholic fighting the desire to drink. Addiction is a disease we don't know how to treat yet - hopefully genetic engineering will eradicate it eventually. I totally agree with you over the outpouring of grief on Facebook.

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    1. It's not a black and white issue BtoB, and as I said I'm not unsympathetic towards anyone with an addiction. But I get quite cross with the Facebook gushing over someone, whether under the influence of drink or not, was actually not a very nice person. But these people seem to forget this. It is an awful disease, and it would be good if an effective treatment were found.

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  2. If you had a friend and you knew that he had some kind of very extreme case of diabetes, so that even a piece of candy could kill him, and you know that he cannot resist sweets, would you consider yourself a true friend if you were constantly offering him cakes and puddings and ice cream? That's the way I feel about people who have drinking problems and the friends that surround them. The worst part of it too is that people with drinking problems can come up with unlimited ways to justify their drinking. They are their own co-conspirator, I guess. You think a person like the guy you mentioned could afford a better class of friends, wouldn't you?

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    1. Nomad your words always describe things so well. These aren't true friends are they? They are hangers-on to someone with celebrity status and money, and they indulge them. With friends like this, you don't really need enemies.

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  3. I have the same views on this subject. I can't understand people's attachment to a person they have never met, will never meet and the behavior of said person is so unsavory tht but for their celebrity most people would avoid in every day life. When a celebrity heavily addicted to drugs overdoses....were we really that surprised? I don't have a pedestal for someone I never knew unless it's someone that Mother Theresa that devoted her life to helping others ..

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    1. I so agree with you Charlotte Ann. I don't really get this obsession with "celebrity", but a lot of people do seem to be influenced by the famous....and not always for the right reasons.

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  4. I feel sorry for the man, but little but contempt for his hangers on who led him to waste his money and his life.

    Celebrity followers....what is so wrong in their own lives that they have to hang on the usually unsavoury doings of those promoted by the media.

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    1. If the hangers on were real friends Helen, then they would have done their best to help him in the early days of his addiction. I suspect his money was more of an attraction.

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  5. Addiction is a difficult thing. I get angry with my OH who won't stop drinking despite the problems it causes but it's like he just doesn't have an off button. He's such a responsible man in so many other ways. I don't know whether I feel sorry for Gazza or not, part of me does. The Facebook stuff just drives me nuts,it's like the sobbing hoards for Diana that bought all the papers. It's like feeding on someone else's misery.

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    1. I understand and sympathise with addiction up to a point KV. Mr A was addicted to gambling when I met him and this continued for some years. It's hard to live with but addiction is also selfish. I tried the sympathetic route, but in the end split up with him for 18 months, giving him an ultimatum. Sometimes this is the only way to make an addict realise what's more important in life.

      I absolutely agree with you on the FB stuff, and when Diana died I found the whole thing quite unbelievable. It embarrasses me when people I know behave like this..I don't get it really.

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  6. I'm totally with you on this one! People talk about celebrities as if they know them, whereas all they know is the persona created by the media. I don't have any ill-feelings towards Paul Gascoigne... the truth is that I feel nothing for him at all.

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    1. Exactly Lilli. Why should we have feelings for someone we do not know.

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  7. I get around it by refusing to follow celebrity news.

    It is always sad when a person dies, though. Or is driven to drink or other drugs by false friends, or (in the case of famous people) hounded to desperation by the media.

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    1. It's certainly sad omentide, that's for sure. A waste of life. Friends...true friends...can see when someone has a real problem, and they do what they can to help them. Sadly it would seem like he didn't actually have any real friends, or he perhaps would not have ended up like this.

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  8. I guess alcoholism is a terrible addiction but I feel like you, really and all my sympathy goes towards the family and friends who are most likely damaged & ruined for life.
    One thing for sure is that money doesn't necessarily bring happiness, does it. Nor does it bring about good health.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

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    1. Money certainly doesn't bring happiness or good health Maggie. And you are right, his family deserve sympathy. It must have been very difficult for them.

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  9. I blame our appalling celebrity-worshipping culture and tabloid media, Ayak. Young men whose only talent is kicking a ball obscene are paid onscene amounts of money at a very young age and yet we expect them to mature and stay in touch with the real world the rest of us live in, while cushioned by wealth and fame. The sad fact is that Gazza's life has been wrecked by drink and drugs until he is no longer a star, but a lonely has-been. What a waste.

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    1. The money paid to footballers is indeed obscene Perpetua. We have seen what an effect it has on some of them. Some just don't know how to deal with it. On the other hand though we have players like David Beckham who has managed to use his money wisely, and also do a lot for sport in general. I guess it depends on the individual. I think Gazza is a weak man, has probably always been so, and easily influenced by those around him. Yes it is a waste.

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  10. I agree entirely.
    This man and others like him are privileged to have been granted success and wealth in this life and they have abused this privilege. They could have done something really useful in this world but instead have been extremely selfish and denied others the help they should have received. It would be wonderful to be able to help people if one was extremely rich but alas the wrong people always seem to get it and squander it. Shame.

    So you are not a heartless cow at all and I doubt if anyone would think so.

    Thank you for your very kind message at my place. Hugs ~ Eddie

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    1. These are very privileged individuals Eddie. I assumed that people who suddenly become famous and earn huge amounts of money, are given advice on how to use it wisely. Some do of course, and many do a lot of good with it. Usually without the accompanying publicity..they just get on with it. The media just love throwing out these "sad" stories because they know people feed off them. xxx

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  11. I'd missed this - I don't Twitter and none of my Facebook friends have mentioned it. I agree we don't need celebrity worship in any form what so every and can't understand why it seems to matter so much to some. Gazza was always vulnerable and likely to have problems, so it doesn't surprise me much that he has - he also had chances to get himself sorted out and never managed to do it.
    Sad for him and his family but the rest of us....well, maybe less so. As some of your commenters have said, addiction is dreadful and so difficult to resist but it is better to see someone beat it than be beaten by it.
    Axx

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    1. I don't Twitter either Annie (I don't get it!) was just told by someone else that it was all over Twitter as well as Facebook...you were fortunate to have missed it.

      It is better to see someone beat this addiction..that's more a cause for celebration.

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