Gwyneth Paltrow said social media was like war. Then an actual soldier stepped in.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent talk at a tech conference earlier in the week might have been completely well meaning, but it resulted in one of the biggest PR blunders of the year so far. When Paltrow compared coming across online hate to the experience of being at war, you can bet a whole lot of people were offended. A quote from Paltrow’s talk, as published by Page Six, goes: “You come across [online comments] about yourself and about your friends, and it’s a very dehumanizing thing … It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it.”
No, Gwyneth Paltrow, it definitely isnt the same thing.
It’s easy to see why people would question this – particularly people, who have actually served in the military and actually fought in real-life wars. One of Paltrow’s most vocal critics was Sergeant First Class Bryan Sikes, who suffered a broken neck and back in a 2008 IED explosion in Afghanistan. Here are some choice quotes from Sikes’ scathing critique, published on The Clash Daily: “I can only imagine the difficulty of waking up in a 12,000 square foot Hollywood home and having your assistant retrieve your iPhone, only to see that the battery is low and someone on twitter (the social media concept that you and all of your friends contribute to on an hourly basis to feed your ego and narcissistic ways), has written a mean word or 2 about you. You’ve hit the nail on the head, war is exactly like that. You should receive a medal for the burden you have carried on your shoulders due to these meanies on social media.”
The Avengers actress is yet to respond.
“You know what is really ‘dehumanizing’, Miss Paltrow? The fact that you’d even consider that your life as an “A-list” celebrity reading internet comments could even compare to war and what is endured on the battlefield.”
He summarized: “Let me be the first to burst your bubble: a long line at Starbucks, your driver being 3 minutes late, a scuff mark on your $1200 shoes and a mean tweet do not constitute difficulty in the eyes of a soldier.”
Sikes also talked to The Clash Daily’s Doug Giles back in 2013, making several comments, which seem perfectly relevant today: “It’s laughable to think because someone didn’t click like on a Facebook picture, that I’m going to get twisted about it. I’ve got bigger things to worry about. My wife and kids mean more to me than anyone else will. I can care less about what else is going on and the vanity of everything. I don’t have time for it.”
For their part, Paltrow and her reps are yet to respond to the essay.
Maybe not the biggest PR nightmare of the year (Donald Sterling, anyone?), but Paltrow probably makes the Top 10.