People say, can she handle it?

She’s shown in a picture with nails bitten to the quick and a tight, forced smile on her face as it’s announced that she’ll be a judge on a talent show.

They say she had a nervous breakdown in 2008, shaving her head and barricading herself and her son in her home as police tried to defuse the situation.

You don’t even need me to tell you who I’m talking about, do you? How is it that we know such intimate, heart-rending details about a person we don’t actually know? Is being famous really more like a chronic condition than a life-style to be envied?

So what actually happened to Britney Spears? Not what the tabloids tell you or former friends swear is true. What was missing in her life that sent her down this painful path?

I think it has to do with a Soul Hole. It’s not a breakdown if you find yourself trying to fill a role everyone else says it right for you but it just doesn’t work.

It’s a Life Leak. The very life is seeping out of you as you try to hold it together so that everyone else will be satisfied.

Just a tiny word to the wise: they are never satisfied.

After all, Britney isn’t just a singer. She’s a product. A conglomerate. Her ability to perform and to court controversy keeps her in the news. That raises her pay grade so she can support her family and friends, and the entire small army of people who earn money from her, directly or indirectly.

There are those who say, “Just be yourself, Britney. You’ll do fine on this new show.”

But people aren’t tuning in to see her be herself. They’re tuning in to see a persona, not a person. They’re hungering for Britney, circa 2008 – the one who went off the rails because she lived in a flashbulb bubble and was tormented by adults acting like children and vultures at the same time. You may know them as paparazzi.

There are also “legitimate” entertainment reporters saying things like, “Some are asking, can she handle the pressure? Will she snap?” Stop contributing to the negativity. Haul your own carcass away from the feeding frenzy. This is someone’s child. Someone’s mother. This is a human being you’re poking at like a piñata.

I think it’s time we raise the level of commenting on social media. If you live by the Golden Rule, light up the world with it now. Don’t pile on hate when someone’s trying to start over. Let love rule.

It’s been said before, but it must be said again. Come on, you people. Leave Britney — and all those like her — alone.

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