2016 has been a year of remembrance and life celebrations for a large number of celebrities, actors, comedians and musicians; we want to remember these well-known figures that are no longer with us. Though this year it seems as if there has been an increase in celebrities dying, and the rate we hear about it.
January was the beginning of the sad news with David Bowie’s death, we’ve since had a stream of household names who have died including music legend Prince, Harry Potter star Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Caroline Aherne, This Morning’s Denise Robertson and Star Wars favourite Kenny Baker. We sadly saw a loss of Ronnie Corbett and in typical Victoria Wood style she joked: “Life’s not fair, is it? Some of us drink champagne in the fast lane, and some of us eat our sandwiches by the loose chippings on the A597” before passing away.
Why does it seem like there are so many celebrities dying?
After the death of Prince, social media users were questioning why so many celebrities have been lost in 2016. Many of the celebrities now dying belonged to the so-called baby-boom generation. Born between 1946 and 1964, these decades saw a huge growth in population.
The more babies there are the increase in likelihood of more people becoming famous, and these babies born in the 40s-60s are now aged between 55-70 and more vulnerable to illness In the UK. People aged 65 or older make up almost 18% of the population – a 47% increase on forty years ago. We should, therefore, anticipate that we would begin hearing about their deaths.
With 39.3 million of the UK accessing the Internet everyday, or almost everyday, we are far more exposed to the myriad of celebrities all over the globe. People are far more likely to know about a celebrity whether they want to or not, because of the increased amount of information in our hands. Celebrities now have a much larger presence in our lives than when we could only see them on the television, read about them in magazines and hear them on the radio.
How are we hearing about celebrity deaths so quickly?
With the development in direct messaging and 61% of adults in the UK actively using social media word spreads as quickly as it takes to press ‘share’. Hash tags are short and catchy, if used enough they will show on the homepage of Twitter as trending, attracting even more attention. The death of David Bowie accumulated around 4.3million tweets – some 20,000 a minute in the hours after his death was announced.
Tweets and posts can spread in seconds, scooping journalists for the first story. Stories on celebrity deaths are spread almost immediately after they happen with the help of social media, changing the way we hear about death. We no longer have to wait for an obituary in a newspaper; the information is at our fingertips within the same hour.
With an increased amount of celebrities reaching their 60’s, our increased knowledge of celebrities and the capabilities of social media, we should expect that the amount of celebrity deaths to not only feel like more, but to be an increasing discussion in the media.