Our Obsession with Ye’s Breakdown is Harmful


Kanye West (Ye) is having a breakdown on social media. (Courtesy of Twitter)

In the past few weeks, it seems as if everyone has been following the drama between Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. West, also known as Ye, has recently been on an Instagram posting spree about his ex-wife, Kardashian, and her new boyfriend, Pete Davidson. 

Since Kardashian filed for a divorce over a year ago, West has continually posted and expressed how much he wants her back, a plea that has become increasingly louder as Kardashian started dating Davidson in October 2021. 

Why are people paying so much attention to someone who is clearly going through an incredibly difficult time and hurting those closest to him? The phenomenon of watching celebrities at their lowest points isn’t something exclusive to West. If anything, it says more about those watching than the public figures themselves. We need to reevaluate how we engage with celebrities during these falls from grace, even if they are constantly in the limelight.

Starting Feb. 9, West has been constantly posting on Instagram about the unfolding situation, begging God to bring his family back together. He has begun harassing Davidson, who he calls Skete, through taunts and rumors. He’s created drama with old friends, such as Kid Cudi, and other artists like Billie Eilish. He posts user comments and photoshopped images portraying a battle between him and Davidson for Kardashian. During this constant spree of posting and deleting, West has gained millions of followers. Whether they are fans of West or not, many people are following his breakdown and wondering what he’s going to post next. 

As an audience, we may feel entitled to follow and engage with Kardashian and West’s personal situation. They are prominent figures in society that have largely conducted themselves in the public eye. This is further exemplified by the Kardashian-Jenner family’s reality television show, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” which has often shown very private situations, such as Kardashian’s divorce from Kris Humpheries, her troubles with childbirth and more. 

To quote one of West’s now-deleted Instagram captions, “WE HAVE A PUBLIC RELATIONSHIP BECAUSE WE ARE PUBLIC FIGURES.” In a sense, West is correct; we feel a right to be involved in these situations because their relationship has always been very public. However, it’s when mental health and destructive behaviors emerge that we need to decide between choosing to follow the drama or give celebrities privacy and respect. 

Celebrities are both people and personas; there are parts of them that are public and private. Their personas are incredibly crafted, so when that wall comes down, the public loves nothing more than to watch them have a meltdown. There are countless celebrities that have had very public meltdowns, and the media continues to fuel them. Amy Winehouse suffered from manic depression and drug addiction, so tabloids used a picture of her snorting cocaine as their front page. Britney Spears suffered a breakdown and shaved her head, resulting in her conservatorship. Paparazzi closely followed the story to satisfy the public’s demand for content. Demi Lovato struggled with substance abuse issues and an eventual overdose that almost left her dead, and the public simply watched and shook their heads. 

When these personas unravel and audiences see the struggling person underneath, there is no empathy — only a sort of satisfaction or validation that they are flawed. Yet, the ramifications of our attention are long-lasting. At the end of the day, our participation in these events does not affect us but rather the celebrities dealing with the situation. 

In West’s case, we are watching someone with a history of bipolar disorder (BP) and mental health struggles face a very real crisis, and it’s not the first time this has happened. In 2016, West was involuntarily hospitalized for BP, much to the surprise of some of those around him. 

Clarence Simmons, the documentarian of West’s recent documentary, “Jeen-Yuhs,” said, “When I would see Kanye go off in the past, I thought it was a part of the show. I had no idea that he was struggling with his mental health.” 

Right now, we are treating West like a show or an entertainment act, when in reality this is a person that is struggling with his mental health. While it doesn’t excuse his actions or the effects that they have on Kardashian and their children, it’s something that we should be cognizant of as an audience when we choose to follow this drama.

When celebrities like West have a meltdown, it’s best to turn away. Yes, it’s fascinating to watch the drama unfold, but by partaking in it, we are causing damage to all of the parties involved. Our participation in the drama has life-long impacts on the Kardashian-West family, yet we revel in the spectacle and reduce it to a joke. At the heart of this is a family that is going through a very real and difficult divorce, and by failing to empathize with them, we continue a heartless trend of how we treat celebrities.

Let’s have some empathy for the situation and give them a break. The person behind the persona is just as human as the rest of us and deserves the same respect.

Samantha Scott, FCRH ’24, is an international political economy major from Columbus, O.H.