Minor Inconveniences in Your Life are not War
When people make comparisons they look for something obvious to make their point. Often, someone looks for something that is universally recognized as bad and doing that diminishes the life and experiences of anyone that endured the subject of comparison. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow has become the latest celebrity casualty in comparing their life war.
She follows in the ill placed footsteps of Tom Cruise who compared his job as an actor to being deployed. Not surprisingly, he was universally criticized by vets. Even one of his own, Mark Wahlberg, got in on the criticism. While promoting the movie Lone Survivor where he worked close with former Navy SEALs, Wahlberg used colorful language to call Cruise out on his boneheaded comment. His management team later said that Cruise never said it and that it was a media mistake.
Paltrow however, is taking flak for her comment during an interview at a tech conference where she compares mean tweets to going to war. In the Interview she said, “You come across [online comments] about yourself and about your friends, and it’s a very dehumanizing thing. It’s almost like, how in war, you go through this bloody dehumanizing thing and then something is defined out of it.”
I am sure that sounded better in her head but no rational person thinks that someone saying something bad about you on Twitter or Facebook is the same as combat action in Afghanistan. I don’t know what kind of tweeting she is doing that it is “bloody” but I think she is doing it wrong. Anonymous Internet comments suck but they are not combat.
There is no aspect of Twitter that is like going to war. The only thing she said that is in the vicinity of anything comparable to the military is receiving deployment orders. Orders are impersonal in that the military is just filling a slot and any one will do. At best a nasty tweet is like a combination of receiving orders and an unjustified negative counseling statement at the same time.
If she would like to simulate the “real war” experience it is simple. Not send her to Afghanistan, there is a solution that she could do in America. Next mean tweet she gets she can kiss her children goodbye and head to any neighborhood that is in the top five of places with the worst crime in America. She is in the middle of a divorce? Tough, a Soldier would have to deploy, so can she.
She can take the celebrities that are publicly supporting her and they can set up a room in that neighborhood for a year. Not a posh hotel, but rent a room in a flop house. Sharing a room in a crappy place would better simulate living conditions on a fire base. They should only be able to go out and do things like food shopping at night with $100 bills sticking out of their pockets and only be allowed to carry pepper spray which would simulate the dangers of running routine convoy ops.
That level of danger would pretty well simulate a combat deployment. There might be a few thousand people in the square mile they are in but not everyone would want to hurt them. Just like Afghanistan where there are millions of people in the country and not every one of them wants to hurt soldiers. But if someone has the desire to do you harm, they are going to try.
Not everyone in a poor neighborhood would want to hurt a celebrity. In fact the actual number would be a very small percentage of the total population, but the few that wanted to would be motivated. Send some rich, white celebrities to a ghetto where no one looks like them and see how secure they feel. Let them be in an area where the people that would do them harm look exactly like the people that would never hurt a fly and see how progressive their thinking is after.
Paltrow’s family doesn’t dread a Twitter alert like a military family dreads a knock at the door. An Internet troll comment doesn’t take you away from your family for a year or more. The emotional toll that a deployment takes on a family, the danger and extreme mental and physical stress that service members go though should not be diminished. Social media messages can’t be compared to war because a person can always delete a social media account.
I am sure that despite the money there are many downsides to being famous. But with her Goop venture Paltrow is seeking the spotlight so she really has no one to blame but herself. I won’t get snarky because I think SFC Bryan Sikes said it best. Negative comments on Twitter or Facebook suck. War sucks. But the amount that war sucks and mean tweets suck are light years apart. If it is that bad keep your head low and stay off Twitter. Which she might want to do with all the heat the hashtag of her name is getting over this. If only war was that easy.