The Internet has equalized many things between the famous and the normals, including how easy it is for hordes of people to harass you.
Pete Davidson has been “getting online bullied and in public by people for 9 months,” the comedian wrote on Instagram on Monday, which is about how long ago his relationship with pop singer Ariana Grande started.
Their quick engagement became the object of pop culture fascination, and so their subsequent breakup brought intense attention upon the “Saturday Night Live” cast member, including a storm of vitriolic comments.
Both of their camps telegraphed that there were no ill feelings between the two, but the scrutiny continued. Davidson has incorporated the breakup into his stand-up act, but on Monday, he took a serious tone in disclosing how the hostility is affecting his mental health.
“I’ve kept my mouth shut. Never mentioned any names, never said a word about anyone or anything,” Davidson wrote on his Instagram account. “I’m trying to understand how when something happens to a guy the whole entire world just trashes him without any facts or frame of reference. Especially in today’s climate where everyone loves to be offended and upset it truly is mind boggling.”
Davidson, who in 2016 he revealed he had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, wrote that he’s spoken about the disorder and being suicidal “only in the hopes that it will help bring awareness and help kids like myself who don’t want to be on this earth.”
He continued: “I just want you guys to know. No matter how hard the internet or anyone tries to make me kill myself. I won’t. I’m upset I even have to say this. To all those holding me down and seeing this for what it is - I see you and I love you.”
On Monday night, Grande posted Davidson’s message on her Instagram story, along with some words of her own:
i know u already know this but i feel i need to remind my fans to please be gentler with others. i really don’t endorse anything but forgiveness and positivity. i care deeply about pete and his health. i’m asking you to please be gentler with others, even on the internet. i’ve learned thru my own mistakes not to be reactive on socials so i do understand. but you truly don’t know what anybody is experiencing ever. regardless of what they choose to display on social media or how they may appear in public. i can promise u that. so please let whatever point you’re trying to make go. I will always have irrevocable love for him and if you’ve gotten any other impression from my recent work, you might have missed the point.
Grande also included an apology for Davidson in her music video for “Thank u, next,” with a message reading, “sry I dipped.” (The song itself has the lyric, “for Pete, I’m so thankful.”)
And last week, Grande’s manager, Scooter Braun, hopped into the comments' section on Davidson’s Instagram account, defending the comic from hateful messages.
“Pete is a good dude,” Braun wrote, as HuffPost reported. “No one has hate for this guy and he is a stand up guy. Show respect because trust me everyone on this side knows he deserves it and wishes him well.”
Davidson is far from the only celebrity to directly address the online harassment they’ve received. And celebrities aren’t immune to the kind of online harassment that people face, especially the kind based on gender or race.
Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei, who is a black woman, left Twitter in 2016 after racist comments and “pictures so horrific and racially charged that i can’t subject myself any longer to the hate,” she explained. One Direction alumnus Zayn Malik, who is Muslim, briefly left Twitter in 2012, citing the “useless opinions and hate I get daily.”
Selena Gomez has said she deletes Instagram “at least once a week,” telling the New York Times, “you fixate on the [negative comments]. They’re not like, ‘You’re ugly.’ It’s like they want to cut to your soul. Imagine all the insecurities that you already feel about yourself and having someone write a paragraph pointing out every little thing — even if it’s just physical.”
Grande herself has been an ongoing target of harassment, especially after her former longtime boyfriend Mac Miller died in September from a mix of fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol.
Within hours of Miller’s death, his fans went after her, and the comments on her Instagram were turned off, the Cut reported. Then, after she posted a Thanksgiving message paying tribute to Miller, the hate came in again, including one person who accused Grande of “milking” his death.
“I pray you never have to deal with anything like this ever and i’m sending you peace and love,” Grande tweeted in response.
Months earlier, Grande received a lot of hate after Miller’s DUI arrest, and she responded by calling out what she saw as the misogyny in the criticism.
Celebrities have long called out tabloid coverage and even have taken publications to court over false and salacious headlines. But social media has opened the floodgates, allowing just about anyone to instantly direct unfiltered hate to people who are so famous they seem otherworldly.
But these famous people aren’t living on other planets. They live on this one, and, it turns out, they do read the comments.
Abigail Ohlheiser contributed to this report, which has been updated.