In light of the recent news about Caroline Flack's death, this article investigates why it is that we respect the dead more than the living.

In the recent weeks surrounding Caroline Flack's death, social media has been inundated with floods of tributes to the star, who was most famous for presenting the reality TV show: Love Island. In reading these tributes however, I was forced to question, why is it that we respect people so much more when they are dead than when they were alive? Tributes to Caroline Flack have revered her kind and bubbly personality, acknowledging her suffering with mental health but simultaneously honoring her ability to, despite these struggles, be a conscientious person who dedicates nothing but passion to her work, friends and family. It is even more tragic therefore, that such a kindhearted person could be defeated by the destructive trolling of social media. 

There is no doubt that whilst social media carries many benefits; we are only ever a click away from contacting our friends and family, it is a breeding ground of hate. The concept that an individual can hide behind a screen gives a dangerous amount of power to that person, allowing them to hurl abuse and nasty comments from an anonymous identity without suffering from any direct consequences. This in turn creates platforms filled with hate and negativity. Even those who do not actively participate in trolling, are often still exposed to these brutal posts or comments and the 'quick and easy' notion of simply clicking 'like' or 'share' serves to minimise the perception of indirect online bullying. What is important to remember is that every like, every view and every share counts and the accumulation of these passive actions catapult their harmful impact. Caroline Flack is just one example of this. Apps such as instagram, facebook and twitter, despite receiving a surge of tributes to the star, were previously the platforms used to attack her with hundreds of thousands of nasty comments. 

Newspapers and the CPS also have blood on their hands. It is heavily ironic, I find, that the same newspapers who broadcasted Flack's tragic death, urging people to be more considerate, were the same newspapers who brought her personal problems to the public eye and continued to consistently plague her throughout a noticeably difficult situation. The CPS, despite her boyfriend dropping the case, nevertheless comitted to carrying out the allegations made against her whilst being in full knowledge of the unecessary distress they were inflicting upon the star. The integrity of these organisations must be questioned, and their treatment of high profile personalities only encourages their impressionable audiences to emulate these actions online also. 

So why is it that we respect people more when they're dead than when they're alive? Is it a sudden surge of guilt that makes people feel the need to compensate for their cruel behaviour by engineering thoughtful and touching tributes? Is it simply because it is tradition to respect those who have died, we have been conditioned to mourn these losses, particularly of those who have 'gone too soon'. It is evident from literature, cinema and art that as humans, we love to worship individuals and make otherwise ordinary people into heroes, making celebrities our ideal victim for this. Nobody however is perfect - people make mistakes, and it is unfair to expect these people to live up to the public's impossibly high expectations. But since we glorify those who are in the spotlight to such an extreme extent (celebrities have masses of cult followings and fans), any mistakes made by a famous individual heightens their subsequent 'fall from grace'. The fact that they are so well known also creates a certain barrier between the everyday individual and them, making it easy to forget that they too, are only human. Their 'celebrity' image further facades the cruelty of the media companies brutal broadcasting of their mistakes under the excuse of it being the 'price of fame'. 

There is however, no excuse for bullying or deliberately tring to cause someone distress. The umbrella of online harrasement is huge, and whilst it is easier to believe that it only involves those who construct direct forms of hate themselves, the uncomfortable truth is that it branches out to all forms of support for these types of mocker. Even so much as liking a meme which serves to troll or make fun of that individual can have a battering consequence of which we are unaware. Ultimately, we must take a look at ourselves. Are we consciously supporting this harrasement by just viewing these newspapers and articles, by quickly liking a rude comment, or making a silly video about someone else's struggles? There is no doubt that Flack's death was tragic and aroused several feelings of anguish and grief. After all, the newspapers and social media have allowed us such an insight to her journey over the last couple of months that we can't help but feel somewhat connected to her death. We must learn from this therefore: to become more aware of our own behaviours towards others, to minimise the pressure we put on those in the spotlight, and most importantly, to be kind.