#WhereisKateMiddleton went too far

    “Where is Kate Middleton?” The question flooded news outlets and social media for months. Various news sources and individuals on the internet theorized about the princess’ potential whereabouts after disappearing from the public eye since Christmas Day. A photoshop-gone-wrong photo, published by Kate’s team for Mother’s Day, only added fuel to the conspiracy theory fire.

    The internet remained captivated by conjecture about the princess’ whereabouts, only to learn that while the public was whispering or laughing about the mystery, Kate was undergoing surgery and treatment to fight cancer. Needless to say, most speculative sources did not feel too proud of themselves after the BBC released a video of the princess explaining her absence.

    The initial response to Kate’s disappearance is an example of how quickly social media spreads misinformation and rumors. News waits for no one. When there is an event where the full truth is left undisclosed, the news does not pause to let the source clarify. It pumps out a speculative headline that spreads quickly.

    Social media has been branded as a place for misinformation, and the Kate Middleton mystery showed exactly that. While few accounts claimed to have direct information from the royal family, the multitude of theories was overwhelming, and over time it became difficult to remember that none of it was proven. Not only were the stories inaccurate, but their sensationalized nature increased buzz and excitement about a difficult situation.

    Some might argue that royals will always deal with the public’s opinion, a reality to which the princess should be accustomed. But, can one public figure not be given the grace to briefly step away from the media to deal with their health privately? What claim do we have to their personal matters, as people who would not want the same details of our own lives broadcasted? Even if someone can maintain that, regardless of the situation, the public is entitled to know the royal family’s business, speculation is not the solution.

    Blake Lively, Stephen Colbert, and Andy Cohen are among the many celebrities who publicly apologized for making jokes before the truth about Kate’s disappearance was announced. These celebrities likely felt comfort in the large number of people involved in the gossip. Boundaries are less clear when you don’t know the situation personally or when the speculation is happening online.

    If something similar happened in our school, if a teacher or student were suddenly absent for a short time, a similar gossip mill might begin to turn. Even though we might not know the story, we’d be guessing why so-and-so missed three whole days of class. In school or online, we must take a moment to think about our tendencies to spread information, accurate or not. We can learn something from this media frenzy: how to be more thoughtful about our actions.


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