Every day I spend on social media reminds me why I envy the rich and the famous only for the former trait and never for the latter.
On Friday, Adele confirmed rumours of her separation from her husband, Simon Konecki. Fans have been in ecstasy since hearing that she was back in the recording studio. But the breakup of her relationship appears to be the cherry on top of a bittersweet cake, as served at Twitter’s #AdelesMarriageIsOver party. In this climate of rehashing and rephrasing identical sentiments in the hopes of maximising retweets, most responses to the latest news were a variation of: “Shame about Adele’s divorce, but the new album will bang.” Even the media got in on it: “We’re already crying at her next album,” MTV said.
The brazen salivating and hand-rubbing over the breakdown of a marriage is a bit icky – even more so when it is at the expense of someone as likable and seemingly normal as Adele, whose anguish has already provided the soundtrack to the world’s despair for a decade.
Adele and heartbreak are synonymous. Her debut album, 19, was created from the fragments of a relationship with an unfaithful partner; aching hearts were consoled worldwide with the mournful single Chasing Pavements. Her 2011 album, 21, was inspired by another failed fling, giving us the hits Someone Like You and Rolling in the Deep. Unlike other artists with epic heartbreak albums – Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, Beyonce’s Lemonade – Adele’s whole discography is shaped by grief.
Still, even if her best bops are born out of pain, her being perceived as a vending machine for “feels” makes me uncomfortable. (There were similar celebrations when Jhené Aiko split from Big Sean and when the Weeknd and Selena Gomez broke up.) It speaks to the increasing dehumanisation of those in the public eye, or the way social media distances us from everyone’s feelings – or perhaps both. The line between national treasure and public property gets thinner by the day.
After so much heartache, Adele deserves a break. She is reportedly ready to mingle: “She’s been excited speaking to men again. She is very much in the courting phase,” according to the Sun. “She has asked friends to look out for potential dates.” I, for one, wouldn’t mind a 30 album typified by healing and new beginnings.