Since its inception, social media has served as a dumping ground for even the most fleeting of feelings. Snapchat stories and the Instagram equivalent present an opportunity for people to vent on camera and then forget that it ever happened a mere 24 hours later. Facebook’s status update box prompts its users to tell friends what’s on their mind at any given moment. Twitter, well, you get the picture.
Things operate differently in this realm for the very famous, whose social media posts are as far-reaching as they are, in a sense, permanent. Even the most mundane Instagram stories can wind up in tabloids before they disappear from the platform. Some celebrities therefore err on the side of caution when it comes to getting personal online, while others seize the opportunity to craft their own narratives.
We needn’t tell you that the Kardashian-Jenners fall under the latter category. As some of the most-followed Instagram users, they have not only served as a pioneering force in the creation of influencers, cashing in on selfie after selfie, but they’ve learned to treat social media platforms like their personal diaries — the sort an older sister might’ve kept hidden away, inevitably drumming up interest in its contents. Kylie Jenner, the billionaire who once led Snapchat to drop $1.3 billion in market value after tweeting that she didn’t open the app anymore, nearly upstaged the Super Bowl last year when she finally revealed the birth of her daughter, Stormi, in a video teased on Instagram.
At one point in time, this would’ve been something the family’s fans waited to watch unfold in an episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” the E! reality series that cemented theirs as a household name. Within a month of its October 2007 debut, KUWTK became the highest-rated series on Sunday nights for women ages 18 to 34. But ratings have suffered in recent years, with social media and tabloid reports edging out the series as the most efficient way to stay up to date on the Kardashians’ lives. (Season 15, which included Stormi’s birth, marked an all-time ratings low.)
This comes down to the instant nature of social media, as it often does in an increasingly digital world. It’s a concept best highlighted by the events of Sunday night’s episode, teased by E’s rather aggressive promotion of this season as one that would address the infamous cheating scandal involving the model Jordyn Woods, Kylie’s longtime best friend, and Cleveland Cavaliers player Tristan Thompson, Khloé Kardashian’s ex-boyfriend and the father of her daughter, True.
In February, TMZ reported that Khloé had broken up with Thompson after discovering that he allegedly cheated on her with Woods at a house party. Thompson’s initial response was to tweet “Fake News,” as the gossip website Hollywood Unlocked noted, while Woods reportedly denied any wrongdoing when Khloé confronted her. None of the other Kardashian-Jenners said anything about it on social media, aside from Khloé commenting with multiple “shouting” emoji on a gossip blog’s post about the encounter and posting cryptic messages such as, “You ever notice people would rather stop speaking to you instead of apologizing when they’re wrong” to her Instagram stories.
That changed when Woods told her side of the story in a March episode of family friend Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Watch show, “Red Table Talk.” Woods told Smith that she regretted going to Thompson’s house with mutual friends after a night of partying, but that she never slept with him or made any attempts to kiss him (whereas he pecked her on the lips as she left his house). By the end of the episode’s half-hour runtime, Khloé had responded to Woods on Twitter.
“Why are you lying @jordynwoods ??” she tweeted. “If you’re going to try and save yourself by going public, INSTEAD OF CALLING ME PRIVATELY TO APOLOGIZE FIRST, at least be HONEST about your story. BTW, You ARE the reason my family broke up!”
It was one of several tweets Khloé posted about the scandal that week — a couple of which walked back some of the blame she flung at Woods — as the tide of public favor turned in Woods’s favor. Eventually, even the biggest of Kardashian-Jenner fans probably tired of hearing about it. So when last week’s episode of KUWTK announced that the next one would finally address what unfolded more than three months ago, it was difficult not to wonder whether it was even worth caring about.
Thanks to the dumping ground that is social media, we’ve already gotten a comprehensive look at both sides of the story. It’s unlikely we’ll learn much about Khloé's experience at the time that we haven’t already witnessed online, similar to how it felt when the show took seven months to address the first Thompson cheating scandal. (Yes, this guy has become a major villain in the Kardashian-Jenner universe.)
It remains to be heard if E! will renew KUWTK for a 17th season. But even if it doesn’t, we’ve got more than a dozen Kardashian-Jenner social media accounts to keep up with. Will anyone miss the show?