News broke on Friday evening that US rapper Mac Miller had died from a suspected overdose. As a talented musician, social media was soon awash with the outpour of grief and condolences that we have become accustomed to when a famous figure passes. The less predictable outcome, however, was the sudden attack on his ex-partner, Ariana Grande.
I’m not one for celebrity gossip, but context is important here – Grande and Miller were a couple for many years and the end of their relationship was announced in May. Less than a month later, Grande announced her engagement to SNL cast member Pete Davidson. Grande never revealed specifics on the break up (and why should she?), but she noted in one interview that their relationship had become ‘toxic’. Miller had his issues with drug addiction and depression, as detailed in this interview with Vulture.com published just days before his passing, so this reference by Grande could be explained by this omission. Could, being the key word here – the public will never actually know what happened behind closed doors.
Immediately after the news of Miller’s death was announced, Grande’s social media accounts were bombarded with abusive messages blaming her for his death. Here are just some of the disgusting comments I’ve seen. I’m not blurring usernames because I feel these people should be held accountable:
There are two issues here. First, blaming a 25-year old woman for her ex-partner dying of a suspected overdose. Putting the blame on Grande because she ‘left him at his lowest’ creates a very harmful ideal that women should stay in toxic relationships and ‘save’ their partners. When someone’s lowest point becomes toxic and potentially harmful, any partner in a relationship has every right to leave. It is not that person’s responsibility to fix their ex-partner.
The second part I have issue with the unbelievable scale of online attacks Grande has received over the past three days. No one should have to put up with the abuse she has received. Given the demons that she has had to face in recent times – most notably the PTSD she has been diagnosed with following the Manchester terror attack at her concert – I hope she has a strong support network around her to help with her grief and the online abuse. There have been numerous cases in the news of people ending their lives because of cyberbullying and it’s time such behaviour is policed in the same way physical abuse is. Keyboard warriors who sit at home, scrolling through their social media accounts to find their next victim, should be named and shamed, reported and punished as necessary.
If you are dealing with online bullying or harassment or know someone who is, contact Cybersmile, which is doing great work to support children and adults in need. If you are struggling to cope with grief, please contact Cruse Bereavement Care or Samaritans. There are lots of people who want to help.