I’ve been wrestling for some time about whether or not it’s appropriate to blog about celebrity news (particularly health issues). On the one hand it seems like an invasion of privacy – what gives me the right to speculate on their health? Shouldn’t I leave the poor celebs their privacy, hen pecked as they are by the media? Yet, on the other hand, when the country is abuzz about an important health issue, there is a “teachable moment” in which doctors can perhaps influence patient lifestyle choices for the better, or encourage some preventive screening if needed.
I did decide to blog about Heath Ledger’s sad passing, and thought it might be important for people to know about autopsies and how they work. Although I had mixed feelings about the post, it was one of my most popular in a long time. So that led me to conclude that I shouldn’t shy away from celebrity news. Nonetheless, I confessed my squeamishness to a friend of mine, and his answer was so insightful that I thought I’d share it with you:
The other way I think
of it is this: health is really personal. Almost everyone who writes about
health does it from the perspective of a personal story – the most common health
blogs are health blogs by patients / survivors about their own experience, the
next most common is by doctors talking about patients. You could have written
yesterday’s entry [Heath Ledger] about the death of a friend or a patient under unknown
circumstances. The problem is that a blog that begins every time with, “I had a
friend who had ALS…” is very concrete to you – you know the friend – but not
concrete to the reader – they don’t know your friend. The use of celebrities
creates a shared vocabulary – people we all “know” that we can converse about.
Put another way, in an
era before blogs, where health conversations were held around kitchen tables and
over the back fence, there was probably less discussion of celebrity health
because the discussants all shared a common stock of people about whom to chat:
Doris down the street has breast cancer; Trudy two doors down has a pregnant
teen; Francine on Maple Street has a mom with Alzheimer’s. The internet and
blogs are an attempt to create a similar conversation with people all over the
country – the planet – who don’t know any people in common. Celebrities are the
only folks we can all discuss, because they are the only folks we all
What do you think? Is it ok to blog about celebrities? Should I do more of it? Less of it? Does my friend have a point? Please share your thoughts.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.