“I feel ashamed that I would have those thoughts, feel that low and that depressed. You can be right or you can be loved. I just want to be loved.”
Those are the words of Katy Perry. Not the lyrics of a Katy Perry song, but the words she spoke through tears to a psychologist during a live streamed therapy session.
The session was the rather somber heart of her recent 4-day (4-day!) live stream on YouTube to promote her album Witness.
As far as publicity stunts go, the marathon stream and the maudlin therapy confessions about her problems with depression and alcohol have got to be among the most grueling a celebrity has taken on. And it worked. Although it could have done more to benefit her fans.
While the live stream captured viewers and press coverage all over the world, Perry’s online therapy session might have done more to prompt people dealing with their own demons to seek help through the immediacy and (ironically) the privacy of a web connection. Yes, of course, we’re talking about video conferencing. And, of course, it’s also true that showing that you care about your fans is never a bad thing for a celebrity.
The Katy Perry Live Stream Was a Worldwide Wonder
Hopefully, Perry’s online chat with psychologist Dr. Siri Sat Nam Singh will make seeking assistance through life’s stresses more acceptable to her millions of fans–especially the teenage female ones whose social media-swamped generation is suffering the highest rates of anxiety and depression yet recorded.
If you’ve got a spare hour, you can watch her session yourself, but the fact it was presented alongside a bunch of publicity stunts and celebrity appearances does seem to diminish its sincerity a little.
After all, Perry was chasing media and concert-ticket-buying/album-downloading audience attention the whole time. Using 41 cameras to cover her every move for 96 hours before finishing with a free online concert, the Witness World Wide live stream earned 49 million views from 190 countries. Those millions of people got to see a range of the singer’s everyday activities, including:
- A chat with Neil deGrasse-Tyson
- Yoga with her dog
- A wake-up call from Super Bowl companion Left Shark
- Ranking the prowess of her famous former partners
- Bonding with RuPaul
All those gimmicks helped Perry become the highest trending celebrity on Billboard’s Artist 100 list, which measures popularity by combining song downloads and radio play with social media interaction.
That’s going to boost album sales, obviously. But if she’d taken an extra tech step with her therapy session, Perry could have demonstrated to her millions of fans an emerging new way to seek help online, and could have added a touch of sincerity and true concern for fans to her gimmicky live streaming schedule.
Online Psychological Therapy
There was no need for Perry to do an in-person visit with her celebrity therapist. She could have stuck with the live stream theme, and visited him via video conference. There are already several sites that offer face-to-face therapy sessions online, including video conferencing for addicts, online marriage counseling via video calling, and online video conferencing therapy for college students.
They function the same way any regular video chat does, with a webcam attached to a desktop or through the camera on your smartphone. The real advance is that they offer anonymity and ease of access unmatched by traditional in-room services, both of which make seeking help less daunting.
Had Perry gone this route, and connected with her doctor over the web she could have offered younger fans a secret pathway to sharing the darker burdens of growing up online.
It could have been the start of a niche, healthy use of social media.
Katy Perry, Social Media Maven
Perry has become one of the world’s most watched social media personalities. She has 100 million Twitter followers, 66 million more on Instagram, and her YouTube channel has earned more than 11 billion views, including the current record for a single video.
She speaks the language of the emerging generations that follow her, and her uncommon openness, as shown in her public feud with Taylor Swift and the Witness World Wide marathon stream, make her a good candidate to lead an online therapy trend.
Had she used a social support site like Elefriends to unburden her soul during the big stream she may have led others to do the same. The UK site functions like any other social media chat room and group video caller, but has strict rules about social behavior and experts on-hand to speak with anyone who cares to share a problem. That sounds extremely uncool in summary, but if Katy Perry used it during her stream you can bet others would have at least taken a look.
The same applies to more formal therapy sites. The image of Katy Perry, popstar, letting loose her emotions to a remote therapist could have been a prompt for shy teens to seek help in a way that doesn’t require parental supervision or publicly walking into a therapist’s downtown office.
We will no doubt be hearing and seeing more of Perry online soon as she seems pathologically compelled to share. Maybe next time she’ll offer fans a solution, not just a confession.