The year was 2008. I knew the names and dating history of every reality show star, regardless of if I had ever watched the television series that made them famous.
I knew the celebrities fashion designer of choice, and who wore it best.
And I was far, far, too aware of my own purse and shoe purchases.
Two things happened simultaneously: I became disgusted at the amount of time I spent reading the weekly magazine that arrived like clockwork, and more disgusted at the quality of people said magazine was covering. The breaking point came when I read a post on one of the most popular gossip sites (named mockingly after a famous socialite) that called out a poor girl's grandma. Just like that, I closed the browser and I was done.
Like any habit, I missed it a little at first. But I was also surprised at how free it felt. Somehow along the way I had decided reading these magazines and sites were some sort of duty, like you had to know what was going on in the celebrity world in the same way that one should know what was going on with the government.
This, my friends, is not true.
And once I took ten steps back, I also realized how disgusting the practices are that keep these sites in business. Paparazzi are no joke, they disrupt people's lives in much, much worse ways than the general interest requires. I'm the first to be curious about the famous, but famous does not equal "deserves to be harassed."
(To be fair, the paparazzi question is complicated. Many times it is a reciprocal relationship. Let's just leave it at the fact that some are better than others. You can easily guess which magazines and websites play it dirty and which aren't as bad.)
I have not given up all interest in the tabloid world. Occassionally when I fly or when I have a particular interest in what's inside, I'll pick one up. I love to look at the fashion pictures and most big news (weddings, babies, etc.) will show up on the regular news or I'll hear it through the grapevine. But this magazine junkie now fills those hours with home and special interest articles or longform journalism & essays.
And my self-esteem thanks me for it.