Whatever you think of Kim and the rest of the Kardashians, the ordeal she endured in Paris is both horrifying and haunting—we can’t stop thinking about how terrified she must have been, fearing for her life as unknown assailants threatened to cut her incredible, fairy tale story short. Thankfully, she survived unharmed, and outwardly it would seem she lost only material possessions, which a woman of her means could, we’d assume, easily replace. However, in the aftermath of the robbery, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Kim and the rest of the Kardashians have lost something much harder to restore, and that’s the sense of safety and security that has allowed them to fearlessly document every moment of their lives for public consumption. The overshare gave them everything they have, and yet one night in Paris it also threatened to take everything away. Since then, they’ve been all but silent on social media, and E! just announced that their show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, has been put on hold indefinitely. If America’s version of the royal family all but invented our current culture of transparency, however staged it may be, is it possible they might also be the ones to send this kind of excessive social sharing out of style?
In the days since Kim was held up at gunpoint, many have claimed she deserved what she got, that she brought the robbery upon herself by flaunting her excessive wealth in the face of her following. Even Karl Lagerfeld—who isn’t exactly known for trying to blend in with the plebeians—chided Kim, saying, “You cannot display your wealth then be surprised that some people want to share it.” In response, the internet has rallied behind the Kardashian clan, widely criticizing these comments for being victim-blaming in nature. Based on the family’s most recent actions (or lack of actions, as the case may be), however, it seems they may not fully disagree with Lagerfeld’s sentiments that Kim is “too public.” We live in a world in which the gap between the have and the have-nots is ever-increasing. When this has been the case, historically, those with limited means have eventually risen up in revolt against those sitting fat on their thrones (so to speak). The 1% of the past lived behind guarded walls for a reason—it’s hard to imagine them printing a bulletin with pictures of their riches alongside a treasure map, and then posting it wide for every pauper in town to read, is it not? And yet, that’s what celebrities essentially do daily in 2016.
A few months ago, Vanity Fair ran a story called “Daddies, Dates and The Girlfriend Experience: Welcome To The New Prostitution Economy” which, while disturbing in its own right, may seem unrelated; however, the expose involved an interview with a young prostitute who cited social media as the impetus for her chosen career. “I think with our generation, Instagram also has a lot to do with it—people are constantly posting what they have,” she says, before going on to say that prostitution became her way of affording the luxury goods she coveted from the social media accounts of others. We’re all well aware of the phenomenon of FOMO at this point, and of the ways in which Instagram, Snapchat and the like have caused many of us to feel as though we don’t have enough, and that because we don’t have enough, we aren’t enough. When we see Kylie Jenner buying her third or fourth house, her young boyfriend gifting her with an $200,000 car, or Kim’s now-infamous diamond selfie, most of us can’t help but think two very distinct and unhealthy thoughts simultaneously—”I want that” and “It’s not fair.” The over-the-top shares of celebrities and other elites—the private planes, the international parties, the expensive designer goods—have us all addicted to our feeds, but in a way that would be hard to argue is good for our emotional wellbeing. Naysayers have been waiting for the backlash to begin for some time now, and we’re wondering if that time is upon us at long last. If the Kardashians, for whom nothing seems to be sacred, are now too scared to share, who won’t be? And if celebrities cease to invite us into their lives via social media as a result of this Kardashian-led blackout, will the defining phenomenon of our generation still manage to hold us in its thrall? We may well see the 1% retreat back behind their guarded walls, and though this would definitely mark the end of the era, we’re not entirely sure it’s one whose passing we should mourn.