The announcement of a pregnancy, especially from one of the world's most beloved musical stars, is ordinarily met with great excitement. Such was the case Wednesday, when Beyoncé told the world in a breathtaking Instagram post she was expecting twins.
Much of the reaction was jubilant and lighthearted. Some, however, took a grumpier route, asking why Beyoncé's pregnancy was worth attention at all.
The argument is a simple one: The world is in such dire straits that focusing on Beyoncé's pregnancy — or any unrelated news, frankly — is just a distraction from what really matters.
This, of course, is condescending nonsense. It underestimates one's capacity to care about multiple things at once, like the human brain is somehow hard-wired for selective focus. It's a form of "concern trolling," in that it identifies a problem — in this case, split focus — that doesn't really exist. Most of all, it assumes a place of moral imperiousness; that celebrity or culture news is unimportant in this new world.
To say that those who are making this argument are missing the point is an understatement.
Not only is thinking about other things other than whatever new, terrifying executive order Donald Trump has handed down possible, it's also necessary.
Over at Slate, L.V. Anderson wrote a piece arguing that breaks from the news cycle is "vital" for self-care. Exposing yourself to nothing but news is a recipe for burnout and depression. A disheartened and exhausted member of the resistance, she argues, is no member of the resistance at all:
In times of geopolitical crisis, it's tempting to deride discussion of self-care by those of us lucky enough not to be personally affected by conflict as a form of navel-gazing on the part of progressive "snowflakes," as the right likes to call us. But self-care is not about self-indulgence. It's about pragmatism. People cannot take useful political action — whether organizing their communities, going to protests, or calling their representatives — if they are feeling burned out, overwhelmed, or paralyzed. When we take care of ourselves, we are investing in our ability to meaningfully resist injustice.
Beyoncé's pregnancy is a fine break from the news cycle. It's a pure bright spot, something to be enthusiastic about that gives just a little bit of hope for the future. Deciding to look at some pregnancy photos isn't going to halt the resistance.
For another, it might not be Beyoncé's pregnancy, but tracking the Oscars instead. Maybe your break is a good book to read. Or a video game to play. Or a TV season to binge watch.
Self-care breaks can take many forms, each as valid as the last. There's no reason to police those — especially when keeping up with the news can be so toxic.
Less than 24 hours before Beyoncé announced her pregnancy, another major media event attracted much attention — to the tune of 33 million viewers. That event was Trump's announcement of his nomination for the vacant Supreme Court seat.
Think about that: In primetime (8 p.m. Eastern), Trump drew 33 million people to watch him say a name. By comparison, the most-watched show of Tuesday night on network TV, some CBS special called Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials, drew just under 6.5 million viewers.
Watching Trump's announcement, which he planned and hyped as if making picks for the highest court in the land were an American Idol results show, is self-flagellation. There are hundreds of news organizations that can report a name of a nominee as it is announced. To tune in is not just the opposite of self-care — it's also giving Trump the media attention he craves.
Meanwhile, with one Instagram post, a black female artist managed to steal the spotlight away from Trump, depriving him of what he wants. Yet some have the audacity to tell people not to care about Beyoncé's pregnancy.
Paying attention to Beyoncé's announcement is far from a waste of time or a distraction from what "really matters." It's both as a method of self-preservation during increasingly dark times and as a form of resistance, however minor. It fulfills the dual purpose of almost certainly driving Trump mad and giving us something to be excited about.
That's the point the concern trolls are missing: Caring about Beyoncé's pregnancy is anything but a waste of time. It's a powerful act all its own.