Stop doing this.

Seriously. Please stop doing this.

And by "please stop doing this" I mean "don't ever fucking do this again."

And by "don't ever fucking do this again" I mean "I hate you."

(Actually, I don't really hate you. I don't want to hate anyone. I love myself. But, if that's what it takes for you to stop, I'll start.)


Why exactly am I ready to start hating you? It has nothing to do with the fact that checking the date on a news story about a person's death takes roughly half of a second. Or the fact that it takes a little over a second to cut and paste someone's name into a search bar, and something like 0.000000000024 seconds for results of that search to appear, points Luvvie already covered last year.

No, my potential hate for you has to do with the fact that it's cruel. Yes. Cruel. If you do this to people, you are a cruel motherfucker — and a murderer — and here's why.

50 years ago, there were only like six people everyone had heard of. Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Ali, MLK, Liz Taylor, and Jesus. That's it. Today, however, we exist at a time when there are more celebrities than there have ever been. There are various reasons for this, but since you obviously have trouble reading things, I'm going to narrow it to three.

1. There are more things someone can do to become a celebrity

In 1965, sleeping with the brother of the second most famous person on Moesha wasn't enough to make you famous. It is now.


2. There's more media, and this media is more accessible

More media means more potential exposure and reach, and more potential exposure and reach means more people know who you are even if they don't know why they know who you are.


3. Celebrity accumulation

If you were a megastar in the 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s, and you'll still alive, if you died today, your name would probably be a hashtag for at least three hours. And someone with some sort of gravitas would write something about you. Basically, not only do we have to account for today's celebrity boom, the celebrities from the past still count too.


Anyway there are a shitload of celebrities now. So many that even someone who gets paid to stay plugged into pop culture — yes, someone like me — can't keep track of everything and everyone. Sometimes you just miss things. And sometimes you forget that you know things.

And sometimes, when people share news about a person's death, you forget that they died already. And that you already went through the whole process you go through when a famous person dies — something that ranges from "Damn, that's too bad" to "Wait, what??? Holy shit!!!" and often has you reflecting on your relationship to their work.


So you go through that process again. And this is what makes you, person who refuses to verify a death date, a cruel motherfucker. You cause people who've already mourned a death — and forgot that they already mourned that death — to mourn it again. All because your shitty ass can't use a search bar. Also, you are effectively killing them twice. Ruby Dee already died once. She don't need you resurrecting her in our minds just so you can kill her again, you murderer.

So again, please stop doing this.

And by "please stop doing this" I mean "don't ever fucking do this again."

And by "don't ever fucking do this again" I mean "I hate you. And since I actually just spent time to write about it, the hate will be real this time."

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a columnist for, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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