I was sitting at Waffle House, looking at my email while eating my breakfast, when The Huffington Post announced that Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul herself, had passed away.
We all knew it was coming. She had been in Hospice care for a few days and the internet gossip machines had her at death’s door for most of the last week. Her death wasn’t a surprise at all – in fact, we had all been expecting it.
But when I found out, sitting in that Waffle House on a sunny day, in good spirits, grief and pain washed over me like a wave. I literally felt pain and mourning for someone I did not know, had never met and who has had minimal impact on my life.
I loved me some Aretha, don’t get me wrong. Her genius and mark on the industry are undeniable, and even people like me who are not huge music people know who she was and can name at least a couple of her songs. But I don’t really understand my profound sense of grief over her death and it changing the entire tenor of my day.
I guess the thing I am wondering is, does the way I get the news affect how I process the news? If I had read it in the paper tomorrow instead of having it shared by a dozen of my friends, would it have changed my emotional response? As a depressive person, I know the least thing can set off a wave of emotional response – is there something about social media and how it functions that change the way we process our emotional response to things? And if so, is social media inherently bad for our mental health?