In today’s world of social media, we have unlimited access to public figures such as a movie stars, athletes, politicians, etc. Everything is public and the internet is forever. While this is good for marketing and promoting celebrity platforms, there is also a down side for these individuals. Yes, we as fans enjoy the increased access to our favorite athletes, but at what cost?
This week, two female players withdrew from the French Open tennis tournament. Naomi Osaka, ranked #2 in the world, withdrew due to media pressure as she states she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” prior to her meeting with the press. Petra Kvitova had to withdraw from the tournament due to an ankle injury from a fall that took place during an interview, one she was obligated to make.
While we, the fans, love having access to all of our heroes’ (or sometimes villains’) profiles, public figures can no longer discuss issues with the media on their terms. Most sports leagues have media sessions the players are required to attend. If the athlete misses the media session, they are fined. Dates and times of these media sessions are not at the players’ choice which means half the time we see players and coaches on the losing side of an event or game, and their emotions might not show the best side of the individual.
How would you react if at the worst moment of your worst day, someone stuck a microphone and camera in your face and asked you a question you really didn’t want to answer?
How about interviews where the public figure has no new material to impart? For example, the tired “on to next week” Bill Belichick interview we must endure every week. It’s obvious Belichick doesn’t want to do it, yet the league mandates he sit down with the press or face a fine.
We all like to believe we would do or say the right thing every time, but sometimes our emotions get the best of us, yet we expect public figures to be perfect at all times, even when they lose an important game/event, or are faced with a difficult decision. Life doesn’t always work like that. We are all human and make mistakes. The problem in a world with all of this media attention is the incessant focus on mistakes. No one wants to remember or even talk about the
good things going on, but we all pounce on the bad whenever we have the opportunity. These public figures are human too.
Here’s a thought. Stop all of the mandatory media obligations and allow individuals to determine, on their own terms, who and when they talk to the media. If we really care about who they are, allow them to be themselves, whether they’re outgoing and crave the spotlight, or if they’re more reserved and introverted. Either way it will be their choice, and therefore we’ll have a better metric on who they truly are as people, good or bad.
Being a public figure is a complicated balancing act. Let them be themselves and maybe we can start seeing some positives in this world instead of always looking (and clinging) to the negatives. Life would be much more enjoyable for everyone.