It’s been 10 days since the death of Caroline Flack and the reactive launch of the #BeKind campaign. Over the last few days, many Irish media personalities have spoken on the topic. Laura Whitmore who took over Flack’s role as presenter of the popular TV show Love Island gave an emotional speech at the beginning of her radio show the day after Flack died. She spoke about online trolls, and the aggression of the UK press. Eoin McDermott took up the opening slot on The Late Late show on Friday night and covered the same ground. And Georgie Crawford and Keith Walsh spoke about mental health and kindness on this Monday’s Good Glow podcast. T
he media narrative around Flacks death is that it was tragically sad and that online and media bullying is responsible for its occurrence. But I think there’s more to it than that…
Over the last few days at coffee stations in offices around the country, colleagues have been chatting about an odd sensation of having lost someone close, despite Flack being a public figure. Groups of friends have been panned out on couches together watching YouTube videos of Flack on their smart TVs mourning her sense of humour and easy social style. I suggest that the poignancy of Flack’s death and the common grief it has stirred is driven by an emotion greater than sadness, but one of guilt.
While watching her on television over the last number of years, who has not been guilty of passing remark on her appearance on one occasion or another? Maybe we read articles about Flacks string of failed romances and thought, if only for a moment, that it must have something that she was doing wrong. When a few months ago, it was publicised that Flack would be taken to trial for domestic violence against her boyfriend, did we jump to her defence or did we relish just a little in the scandal?
I think it’s important that as we reflect on the tragic loss of this beloved household figure, that we don’t buy into the narrative that this is the doing of just those who print negative stories in the press or who go online and post negative comments on social media. We all hold a bit of responsibility for this death. We must all be held to account for this tragedy. It is only by recognising our personal part in this tragedy that we can change our behaviours, grow to be kinder, stop bullying and save lives. Be kind.