Let’s just get this out of the way – No, I do not personally know Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, their children, their lawyers, or anyone who knows the ins and outs of their family. In fact, since Jennifer Aniston wrote an essay about the shaming that goes on under the guise of journalism for the choices that she has made in her life (oh, the irony for her to be included in this essay), I vowed not to read celebrity gossip news story anymore and I’ve done a pretty good job of sticking to my commitment.
But, headlines are everywhere and I am on social media so here’s what I know about the situation: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are getting divorced. Here are how the responses play out, as I’ve observed:
1) People are mad that we spend any time discussing celebrity news stories in a world where poverty, war, hunger, and climate change are just a few of the issues we really should be concerned about.
2) People are indifferent; they could not care less at this couple getting divorced.
3) People are gleeful. It could be because they were team Jennifer (which for the record I was; I doubt I will ever love a show as much as I loved Friends) or it could be a case of schadenfreude, which is when we find pleasure in others’ peoples misfortunes
You’ll notice that my fourth option is rather generic and it has to be because I taught statistics and research methods for many years and the recovering academic in me cannot have a list of options that is not exhaustive (meaning every possible alternative is given). So in this option, we have a whole spectrum of possible responses including excited that Brad or Angelina may now show up on Tinder or, in my case, broken heart.
Yes, I am heartbroken over this divorce and here’s why: I have never been divorced, but I know what it’s like to have a relationship end.
Some have been amicable and some have been awful. But no matter what type of breakup there is, I always feel a sense of loss.
For the amicable splits, it could be like saying goodbye to pumpkin spice when spring returns (even though we now know pumpkin isn’t really pumpkin). It’s not too hard to say goodbye because we have fond memories and the promise of new scents out there, like lilac and fresh mown grass. Besides, pumpkin spice always comes back, right? If we just wait long enough…. And who knows? You might have moved on to peppermint by then anyway.
For the awful splits, well, most of us know how that feels. The worst was always that first morning after a breakup. You wake up feeling exhausted and drained, with a hollowed-out sensation behind your eyes which also feel prickly, but you’re not sure why. There’s a sense of something not being quite right and then it comes back and hits you like an elephant sitting on your chest – you are now alone and no longer in a relationship.
So can you imagine suffering that sense of loss and then being reminded about it in the newspaper, on the television, or the internet? Not because there was a reference to a song the two of you shared or a book or movie the both of you enjoyed, but because there is an actual story written about your breakup for others to read and comment on as they see fit. People who don’t even know you get to call you names and make assumptions about who said/did what and how the other person felt about it.
I want you to seriously imagine what that would be like. Go on, close your eyes at the end of this paragraph and picture it happening to you – you feel vulnerable, pessimistic, and unloved, and millions of people know it.
MILLIONS. OF. PEOPLE.
So that’s why my heart is broken. Because I can imagine what that feels like and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, let alone two people who made a commitment to love each other and raise a family together only to see that commitment come undone years later.
I am now going to offer a fifth option for a response to Angelina and Brad’s divorce. For those of you who believe in the power of prayer, pray for them and their family. For those of you who do not, simply hold them in your mind and wish them well.
Imagine if everyone reading Angelina and Brad stories did this! Let’s guessitmate that’s 10% of the US population. We would get a new equation that looks like this:
(Angelina – Brad) + 32,000,000*<3 = <3 to ∞
Angelina and Brad would cancel each other out and we would be left with an abundance of love. Simple, I know, and idealistic, yes. But I’m okay with that because I also taught the rule of parsimony in research methods which tells us that we need to keep things simple.
So what do y’all think? Should we try this? Think it will work? I would love to hear your comments.
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