Another Celebrity Victim

Hannah Anderson is a matter for the Pew Research Center to study. The way social media is turning victims into celebrities. Or rather, how victims are using social media to build celebrity-status platforms. And how the public’s blood-thirst for juicy news is contributing to the whole ugly mess.

Only days out of the remote Idaho wilderness, sixteen-year-old Hannah Anderson took to social media to share intimate details of the nightmare inflicted upon her and her family by “Uncle Jim”.

James DiMaggio, described as a good family friend (her father’s best friend by some accounts) nurtured some sort of fixation upon the young Hannah. To what degree Hannah, or her family, were aware of this fixation has not yet been determined, or explained by law enforcement.

By now you’ve surely heard the details of how the forty-year-old neighbor tortured and killed Hannah’s mother, her eight-year-old brother, and the family dog and then made a mad dash for the Idaho wilderness with Hannah in tow. For six days, Dimaggio managed to elude law enforcement before finally being shot and killed by FBI tactical team tracking him and Hannah.

Once his daughter was back in California territory, Hannah’s father took to the airwaves and thanked law enforcement for returning her home safely. Then he begged the public to grant the family their privacy, so that Hannah, by all accounts a victim, could heal.

But Hannah had other ideas about her healing. Instead of seeking  a quiet space to reflect, to grieve, to process her mother’s death, the slaying of her younger brother, Hannah turned to technology and began vomiting out the details of the previous week with her deranged kidnapper.

The UK’s Daily Mail provided a selection of questions posed to and answered by Hannah at the popular teen hangout Ask.fm. While there is no right way to grieve, there are certainly healthy and unhealthy ways to grieve. And building a public platform from such tragedy doesn’t seem like the healthiest of ways to deal with the sort of trauma that Hannah has allegedly endured.

The rhetoric behind DiMaggio’s actions has shifted perceptibly since Hannah’s return. Instead of referring to DiMaggio’s actions as an “abduction”, law enforcement simply says Hannah was a victim in every sense of the word, and held against her will. These may be subtle differences for the general public, but in a court of law, such wording matters.

Of course, there will be no trial since DiMaggio is dead.

Hannah told her Ask.fm audience that DiMaggio had “more of a family crush, like he had feelings as in he wanted nothing bad to happen to me.”

Conflicted emotions during times of trauma are common. Most of us have friends who are like family to us. We couldn’t imagine any of those friends murdering our family members.

Hannah told her Ask.fm audience that DiMaggio “tricked” her.  She said she will never forgive herself for not doing more to protect her mother and her brother. She posted photos of the new manicure she got as tribute to them. Pink for mom and blue for her brother.

Yes. Apparently, this is how our young memorialize the dead and murdered in modern-day America: They get manicures.

Then they take to social media and build a platform.

In every sense of the word Hannah Anderson has become a Celebrity Victim. And she appears to be keenly aware of the importance of that status. In addition to posting photos of her manicure, Hannah posted pictures of herself, in full make-up and smiles.

Kinda of creepy, isn’t it?

Not at all what one might expect from a child who has witnessed the murder of her mother and brother, and then reportedly kidnapped by a “psycho”, as Hannah labeled DiMaggio in one of her postings.

But, what should we expect from a generation of children who have been taught that the quickest path to power is celebrity status.

Fame is the trading card of today’s social media generation.

It matters not how one becomes a celebrity. The only thing that matters is that one gets noticed, around the world, preferably.

Hannah, like so many teens today, is in desperate need of some parental supervision. Sadly, the person who might best provide that has been slain. And the only eye-witness we have to her mother’s killing is Hannah, herself.

The latest in a growing-line of celebrity victims.

 

 

 

About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • alishadefreitas

    Sick.

  • pondering

    I’ll think about it….. I am wondering if she is just trying to get back to normal by doing what 16 year olds do, and that is a lot of social media. I don’t mind the finger nail polish tribute, it is her’s to offer. Its possible that she is just beginning to process all that happened. Grace to all….

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Grace to all is a good idea.

  • AFRoger

    It’s a very different way of relating to the world and to other human beings. A part of me says, “Some day, she will know better. Or know differently.” I’m not sure of that, however. It wouldn’t be the first time a human being has confused breadth with depth, and quality with quantiy of “relationships.”
    Something an observer of human sexual relationships said a while back comes to mind: “The more frequently people bond inappropriately, the more difficult it becomes to bond permanently.” Social media, with postings of all manner of trivialities and photos of self does not constitute a human relationship formative of maturity and character. It can, I think, foster a prticular kind of relationship, one focused on self. I’m not sure the wise admonition to “know thyself” is superseded by the current addiction to “post thyself” several times per hour.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      I’m not sure of it either, Roger. The mantra of the day seems to be whatever feels right, do it. I love that quote about bonding inappropriately. Terrific wisdom in that.

  • Sharon O

    I read her ‘script’ that the internet showed and although she is young, and yes immature, and yes no one should have allowed her the ‘space’ to get on line, perhaps it is also a way for her to just ‘talk’ … not necessarily be a celebrity.
    I am not sure that was her intent. If she has become a celebrity it is because the media allowed it.
    Everyone grieves differently. AND she was a crime victim and YES she was also held against her will in captivity. BUT…can we give her a bit of grace? she is only a young teen and she may not know what is appropriate. I feel very sad and sorry for her and in her years to come as she grieves the loss ‘of family’.
    I give her a bit of slack just because she is a young teen with limited knowledge. I am also concerned for her to go back to school with all the media attention.
    How would someone her age do that? she is not anonymous people know who she is and how would she go forward ‘as if’ nothing happened? I pray and hope she gets a wonderful support system.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      I think I stated that there is no right way or wrong way to grieve. Only healthy and unhealthy ways. I think this is an unhealthy way for all sorts of reasons, some of which I have stated. The attention isn’t going to do her any good.

  • AmerFrog

    “Oh, oh. We’re in trouble now.” – Hannah Anderson upon being found with DiMaggio by horseback riders. Letters from Hannah to DiMaggio have been found, along with used condoms. HLN is having a field day!

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Mmm.. haven’t seen those reports.

  • Coco

    “And the only eye-witness we have to her mother’s killing is Hannah, herself.”

    You’re losing credibility here, misrepresenting the facts. If you’re going to jump on the “Hannah’s involved” bandwagon, the least you could do is get the facts straight. The authorities explicitly stated that she did not even know her mother and brother were killed until the rescue. She was not an eye-witness at all.

    Yeah, she’s handling this different than teenagers in similar situations in previous generations. That’s because the internet has changed the world we live in drastically. We may not understand it or agree with it, but it doesn’t give anyone the right to say she’s grieving incorrectly. You don’t get to decide what’s correct for her. It probably hasn’t even hit her yet, the gravity of her new life after the tragedy.

    Until there are some actual facts that show she was involved, let’s reserve our judgment and let the kid start to heal. And no matter how she dresses, or what she did, she’s still a (barely) 16 year old girl who shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of a 40 year old man.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Coco: This post isn’t about Hannah’s involvement or lack thereof. It is, however, a statement about the health of this child. It does pose the question of whether it is healthy or not to turn one’s victimization into a public persona and platform. The statement about Hannah being the only eye-witness to the days event is not misrepresented. How do the police know for sure that Hannah didn’t see her mother murdered? Only by the testimony she herself provided, right?

      • mf1research

        This 16 y/o victim has been coerced, pressured to communicate, and abducted. Her entire household is dead, even the dog. And the manipulative, controlling 40 y/o family “friend” (just like his dad) turned out to be a monster with a decreasingly hidden crush on her.

        Hannah is no doubt entering the five stages of grief that attend any trauma or loss, as documented by Kubler-Ross. So her denial and bargaining (I’m fine, I just need to get back to my life online with my friends) will lead to depression, anger, and acceptance– IF she gets to vent to healthy people. Her 16 y/o soul is on a difficult search.

      • Coco

        “This post isn’t about Hannah’s involvement or lack thereof.”

        then: “How do the police know for sure that Hannah didn’t see her mother murdered?”

        Really?

        The authorities are doing whatever investigation they’re doing with actual facts and information. People on the internet are not outsmarting them by coming up with these whacked-out victim-blaming theories based on small pieces of evidence. This is yet another example of media prosecuting the innocent, which can have damaging consequences far worse than those Hannah may or may not be bringing upon herself in her chosen methods of grieving. If you and other “journalists” and commenters actually had concern for “the health of this child” perhaps you’d refrain from extreme speculation about her and this case.

        Also wanted to add that your reasons for feeling it’s okay and not a misrepresentation to say that Hannah was an eye-witness don’t make sense. You don’t know and don’t have proof so she must have been an eye-witness? Oh okay. So your assumptions are more truthful than her statements. Guess we’ll just take your word for that.


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