Timer broken on Taylor Swift’s 15 minutes of fame

Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Have you ever had a neighbor or friend who shared way too much about themselves to the point you feel the need to avoid them so your brain doesn’t push out relevant information about life in general in exchange for stuff you don’t really want to know?

I feel like that whenever a news media snippet about Taylor Swift appears. Every time I turn on the television or jump onto Facebook, there’s something about Swift, usually several things. It seems like since 2023 started — and it has spilled into 2024 — the singer has permeated all aspects of life.

Swift has always been a fixture when it comes to the world of music, but now she’s busted out into sports commentary ever since she started dating Travis Kelce with the Kansas City Chiefs. Now with her efforts to get younger generations out to vote in elections, political commentators are losing their marbles, as well.

To prove my case, I present Exhibit A, the Google search this morning when I punched in “Taylor Swift” for news headlines:

• USA Today: Some Republicans fear Taylor Swift could influence the election for Biden.

• HuffPost: Wall Street Journal shreds ‘Trumpy internet trolls’ with blunt question about Taylor Swift.

• NBC: Jeweler behind Taylor Swift’s ‘TNT’ bracelet reveals Travis Kelce purchased matching bangles for the couple.

• Yahoo News: Pentagon to MAGA world: You need to calm down over Taylor Swift.

• The Washington Post: Why Taylor Swift’s globe-trotting in private jets is getting scrutinized.

• New York Times: Taylor Swift is a ‘treasure,’ says Liz Cheney, a prime Trump critic.

• The Guardian: Grammys set to celebrate female musicians as Taylor Swift eyes a record-breaking win.

I will stop here, as there’s only so much readers can take in, but suffice to say there’s more topics that have made headlines in the last day or two about Swift. The only topic that’s probably not on the internet, as far as I’ve seen, is having a nutrition expert go into detail about what the woman had for breakfast today.

It’s gotten to the point where Gannett hired a reporter to exclusively report on Swift. As other newspapers are figuring out how to report the news with smaller staffs, the news company is having a reporter chase after Swift and report on aspects of her. He might very well be the one who finally talks to the nutrition expect about Swift’s breakfast.

Thankfully, Swift isn’t leading off every television program to the point where the need-to-know info about government and the wars in Israel and Ukraine are being pushed aside. Still, it feels like we’re heading in that direction, and as a journalist, that bothers me. Becoming numb to the horrors of the world because we’re addicted to Swift like a bunch of junkies is not the way to build a civilized society.

There are billions of people in the world, and everyone has a story to tell. As a reporter, I’ve told hundreds of stories of ordinary people doing interesting things — book authors, musicians, comedians, even teddy bear collectors — because everyone deserves some time in the spotlight. However, Swift’s 15 minutes of fame has been extended to the point where I say: “Stop the ride. I want to get off.” I’m pretty sure the timer is broken.

I get that people are curious about celebrities, and there have been other instances where information overload has been reached on the talented people we adore. Where does it end, though? A British princess was killed because the media was desperate to chase her down for photos and tidbits of information to turn into stories. Is it going to take a tragedy for the Taylor mania to subside?

We stop at freeway off-ramps to rest on long car trips. We turn off the television when the news is getting too depressing. We take mental health days when the stresses of work and family get to be too much. Even carnival rides that are fun must come to an end at some point. I think we need a “Swift stop” on information about Taylor Swift. There are other people in the world. Let’s pay attention to some of them for a while.

Lee Pulaski is the city editor for NEW Media. Readers can contact him at lpulaski@newmedia-wi.com.