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.