by Olly Allen
‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind’. Caroline Flack shared these words on her Instagram page at the start of December. Maybe it was a cry for help. A plea for all the hurt to stop. Ten weeks later she had been found dead in her flat, and the world was mourning the loss of a hugely talented individual at the age of just 40.
The news really shook me and for a while I couldn’t quite work out why. Maybe it was because she had been a constant on my television screen, whether that was growing up watching children’s TV shows such as TMI and Fame Academy, or more recent reality programmes like X Factor and Love Island.
“When newspapers rush to remove articles and tweets are swiftly deleted in the wake of tragedies such as this, guilt is clear”
But then I realised it wasn’t because I knew who she was that I felt so moved. It was because she felt that there was no other way out. That her life had no purpose or meaning anymore. That’s something that no one should ever be made to feel. It’s even more devastating as she always came across as fun-loving, energetic and almost unshakable on screen. It’s to her credit that she remained a figure of professionalism, but it also shows you can never tell what someone is going through on the inside.
Flack was not without her faults. The assault allegations that she was set to stand trial for were incredibly serious. But you can take that in isolation. Domestic abuse
is a horrifying crime, but that does not makes her death any easier to take. No one in this world is perfect. We all have our inner battles and demons that others do not know about, and it seems Flack became increasingly troubled and ultimately desperate as her trial got closer.
“Fame and wealth do not protect celebrities from mental health struggles”
It brings into question the role of the tabloid press and social media in Flack’s passing. I’m not going to make a sweeping statement to suggest that they were solely responsible, because Flack’s personal life was evidently troubled, but they certainly worsened played a part. Retweets, likes and article clicks are prioritised over an individual’s well-being and profit is being made out of people’s troubles. That cannot be right. When newspapers rush to remove articles and tweets are swiftly deleted in the wake of tragedies such as this, guilt is clear.
No one is exempt from life’s cruel workings. Fame and wealth do not protect celebrities from mental health struggles. If anything, it leaves them more vulnerable as their every move is scrutinised and berated. There is a naivety, an ignorance and insensitivity to many comments that make their way online. Social media has increased our level of schadenfreude and made us more judgemental, cynical and uncivilised. You do not need to tear someone else down to feel good about yourself. Maybe it’s too much to ask, but is it not easier to love than to hate? We would all be much better human beings if we swapped each negative comment for a supportive message.
To go back to those words at the start of the piece. I had never heard the phrase ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind’ until a few days ago, and it’s author is stated as ‘unknown’. But from now on, I’ll always make it my moral to live by and attribute it to Caroline Flack. May she have finally found peace.