These past two weeks, R&B singer Kehlani’s arm has gone viral. Her relationships with Cleveland cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving and OVO producer and recording artist Partynextoor ( also known by the moniker “PND”) has been a hot topic across social media after some pictures of the two couples were posted on Instagram. The initial photo featured her and Irving together, happy, with her distinctly tattooed hand covering a laugh, captioned with a with a heartfelt note to Kyrie. In the caption, she let him know how he took her out of a dark place where she felt incapable of being loved, and how she had been in several toxic, one-sided relationships where she gave endlessly and received nothing in return; and how honored she was to know and love him, calling him her best friend and ‘the best boyfriend of all time.’
About a week later, well-known producer and singer, PND uploaded a photo of his and Kehlani’s hands intertwined on a bed captioned, “After all her shenanigans, the R&B singer is finally back in my bed.” The internet went wild. Allegations whizzed throughout the net that Kehlani had cheated on Kyrie with PND. Within hours, Kyrie Irving became the laughingstock because he appeared to have been cheated on and dumped by Kehlani for her ex.
Days after that, a photo of Kehlani’s arm surfaced on the web once again, hooked with needles and connected to an IV machine, with the caption detailing a suicide attempt saying “this was the lowest she’d felt.” In the caption, she made an attempt to clear the air by saying that no one had been cheated on and that no one had been hurt. She went on to thank God for sparing her life despite her selfishness, and came to a realization that everything happens for a reason. She posted a follow-up photo of PND at the foot of her hospital bed, captioned “Thank you for saving my life”, and shortly after that, she deleted her Instagram and Twitter accounts. The media was all abuzz with memes, making all sorts of assumptions on the situation between the three.
This just goes to show how without-context the internet is. Social media is so pervasive, we think we know everything about each other, especially celebrities. It is so easy to hop from conclusion to conclusion and to make harsh judgements on the lives of others that we really know nothing about, just because of a collection of pictures or (for all we know) unrelated tweets. Kehlani has discussed her past in dealing with chronic clinical depression, self-hatred and self-harm. Her music is very articulate and well-written, and it is clear that she is emotionally intelligent, albeit fragile after having been through heartbreak after heartbreak. She is only twenty years old. She is still growing, and still learning hard lessons, just like we are. For some people to take her real-life issues like her suicide attempt- and spin it around to make it a joke, and to make her seem over-dramatic or as though she was seeking attention is incredibly unkind and insensitive.
In pop culture, there has been a disturbing trend of vilifying women and glorifying men for certain behaviors in order to preserve traditional hegemonic values. For example, Kanye West insists on making a joke out of his ex, Amber Rose by slut shaming her every now and then (for example, his 30 showers comment), yet when he’s never uttered a peep when his own wife posts nudes on the internet in an attempt to stop slut shaming and promote female autonomy over their bodies- and no one bats an eyelash at his hypocrisy.
As a generation, we need to work on our kindness. Because of the rapidly increasing pace of our lives and because of the sensationalist nature of the media, due to the instant gratification we’ve become so accustomed to, it can be easy to forget to empathize with one-another, and to try to imagine what the next person may be going through. We need to go out of our ways to be kind to each other for that reason.
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