Get the best of Monitor journalism in your inbox.

Ariana Grande's lesson in privacy in the social media era

Singer Ariana Grande said 'I hate America.' Celebrities are leading increasingly less private lives in an age powered by social media and technology. 

Scott Roth/Invision/AP
Ariana Grande performs at NYC Pride's Dance On The Pier at Pier 26 in New York, on June 28.

“I hate Americans. I hate America.”

That’s what pop icon Ariana Grande said in a video released by TMZ on Tuesday. The clip shows Ms. Grande in a donut shop with a friend, looking poised to buy some of the tasty treats. But the cashier at the shop told the Associated Press “she was really rude,” and that she and the man with her licked several doughnuts, but didn’t buy any of them.

When a worker came out with a tray of doughnuts Grande shook her head, muttered an expletive and said she hated America.

The singer has since apologized for her comments in a statement to the AP:

“I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I’ve always made it clear that I love my country. What I said in a private moment with my friend, who was buying the doughnuts, was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words.”

Grande claims that her moment of hatred stemmed from frustration with “how freely we as Americans eat and consume things without giving any thought to the consequences,” and wasn’t intended to be hurtful.

The Internet and social media in particular blur the line between public and private life for many celebrities and everyday people. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram spread information at hair-raising speeds and once the damage is done, it’s irreversible.

In May 2014, an elevator surveillance camera filmed Solange Knowles angrily confronting her brother-in-law, rapper Jay Z, punching him, all while her sister singer Beyonce Knowles stood calmly by.

Solange, was immediately thrown into the public eye. Clips of the incident on the video-sharing website YouTube have been viewed over half a million times.

In June 2012, a fellow first-class airline passenger scolded Justin Bieber for his profane language on a flight to Australia. Several outlets picked up the story, with headlines about Bieber “enraging a mother of two” and the young singer's “potty mouth.”

Mr. Bieber has a hefty 32.6 million followers on Instagram, making him one of the ten most followed people on the social media outlet along with Grande.

But incidents are not just limited to social media indiscretions. Maroon 5 lead singer and "The Voice" judge Adam Levine mumbled “I hate this country” as his show moved on to commercial break. Many were outraged. Mr. Levine took to Twitter soon after the incident and tweeted definitions of “joke,” “humorless,” “lighthearted,” and “misunderstand,” reported Rolling Stone.

Celebrities like Grande are walking on eggshells. Cameras, microphones, and the rapid expansion of social media have changed expectations of privacy.

But this week's incident may have been a wake up call. She told the AP that she’s watching her words:

“…I should have known better in how I expressed myself; and with my new responsibility to others as a public figure I will strive to be better.” 

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.