OPINION: Kate’s cancer diagnosis and the culture of sensationalism

Mar 28, 2024 | OP-ED, Opinion

I have never cared for the monarchy and its dramatics, nor do I have a fondness for Great Britain’s habit of sustaining an aristocratic social ranking system.

Despite my detestation towards the Royal Family, I recognize when the internet crosses the line, turning deeply personal matters into public punching bags.

The media and the internet need to take one giant step back.

Catherine Middleton, Princess of Wales, recently made headlines with the announcement of her cancer diagnosis in a video shared on March 22.

Middleton’s absence from the public eye following her abdominal surgery in January sparked global concern and speculation.

Kensington Palace’s minimal updates on Middleton’s whereabouts led to rampant speculation online, prompting the creation of a viral tag: Where is Kate?

Concern for the princess only intensified after a manipulated photo of Middleton with her three children circulated in early March, fueling tabloid frenzy and social media speculation.

Despite a 2018 global Ipsos survey which found views towards the Royal Family to be more favourable than unfavourable globally, bad jokes continued to flood the internet.

The outlandish theories surrounded the possibility of a bad haircut, plastic surgery that had a long recovery time, or pulling a ‘Gone Girl’ and running away from the monarchy.

However, after Middleton disclosed her diagnosis, American celebrities like Stephen Colbert and Blake Lively publicly apologized for their insensitive remarks.

The media has now shifted from amusement to remorse, which has shown the world the trajectory of fake news and the consequences of public scrutiny.

This begs the question if Middleton’s cancer diagnosis warrants a resounding wake-up call to the internet and a poignant reminder that sometimes everyone should simply mind their own business.

Although the internet and the media were unaware of her diagnosis, I believe the jokes still fostered a culture of insensitivity where misinformation had the opportunity to thrive.

This is not the first time that royals have been the target of sleazy tabloids and conspiracy theories and some could even argue that Middleton knew what she was signing up for when she married into the family.

However, the world quite literally didn’t give Middleton a chance to deal with this diagnosis on her terms and in private.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what family you marry into, privacy is a basic human right and the internet has managed to exploit an ailment that is meant to be dealt with privately.

It has become increasingly obvious that the internet takes no prisoners, and that anyone in the public eye should be prepared to be scrutinized at any given time.

As morbid as it may seem, I hope Middleton’s cancer diagnosis emphasizes how important it is for the internet to prioritize empathy and respect over a culture rooted in misinformation and sensationalism.