A rumor about the death of Betty White has been making the rounds today, started by a "satire" website called Empire News (think The Onion, only not at all funny). Apparently, they thought it would be hilarious to produce a post about how Betty White “dyes peacefully in her Los Angeles home,” as in colors her hair.
Granted, the internet is not a place known for empathy, but joking about death in this way, as if the subject of the hoax isn't an actual human being, just an idea that exists solely for our amusement, is troubling and borders on sociopathic. With the recent deaths of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, and reports of Joan Rivers fighting for her life, the idea of celebrity and death have been intertwined more than usual in recent weeks.
Williams was so beloved that the reaction to the news was raw and emotional...for the most part. While some got together to watch marathons of his movies or leave flowers at the Mrs. Doubtfire house, others took the time to bully his daughter off Twitter. Reactions to Joan Rivers' medical situation have been just as devoid of compassion. Commenters on popular gossip website Oh No They Didn't gleefully wished for her death (everything from "LMAO did she die? I hope she died" to "die you old bitch" to "take her satan. just do it").