Social media, where believing is seeing.
The past weeks have been eventful for Black music aficionados. First, Kerrion Franklin, the estranged son of legendary gospel artist Kirk Franklin, leaked audio recordings of heated phone conversations between he and his father, in which the elder Franklin used profane language and threatened bodily harm, via Instagram. Adding to this, rapper Saweetie recently announced her split from boyfriend Quavo of Migos via Twitter. Each were top trending topics on the latter platform, sparking much conversation online and beyond.
Both actions follow a trend where social media users feel the need to overshare aspects of their personal lives. Such behavior is heightened given a large following. Therefore, celebrities face a greater burden. For this group, any personal information may be circulated on a mass scale, subject to scrutiny or praise. In contrast, the lay public can likely keep shared posts about their lives fairly contained.
Franklin has been the subject of conversation in several circles following his son’s actions on March 13th via Instagram. Kerrion’s post of he and Franklin’s conversations also contained a caption, partially reading,
“I don’t think I’ll ever trust my father to be alone around him ever again. I didn’t want to do this. I probably won’t release the entire recording because it’s too embarrassing that Im even dealing with this.”
Franklin later apologized that same day via Twitter, saying that for many years both he and his family have had a toxic relationship with Kerrion. The gospel artist furthermore claimed he has tried to rectify “this private family matter” through counseling and therapy. Regarding the leaked audio, Franklin said he felt extremely disrespected in the conversation between he and his son. However, he also alleged Kerrion omitted part of the recording in which he contacted the family therapist for help.
Kerrion’s decision to share a private family matter, especially one involving a well-known figure, on social media can be explained a few ways. One might argue, he deals with loneliness. According to psychologist Sandi Mann, those with this condition may yearn for affiliation. Their oversharing might simply be a way for them to connect with others and possibly gain attention via “likes” or “comments.” During an interview with broadcast journalist Tamron Hall, Franklin, alongside his wife Tammy Collins, spoke candidly about sending Kerrion to therapy as a teenager and his experience with counseling spanning more than 20 years.
Franklin’s son is one of four children. However, Kerrion does not share the same mother with his three siblings. Perhaps he felt like an outsider in his father’s newfound family. The younger Franklin seemingly touched on this in a follow-up Instagram post, in which he wrote the following:
“14 years not one Dinner, not one cozy Sunday night together. Not invited over for Christmas or any holiday. I am sick of threatening words CONSTANTLY BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. I have earned the space to speak how I please about my childhood. None of you have walked in my shoes.”
Despite Kerrion’s claims, however, his mother Shawn Ewing, Franklin’s ex-girlfriend, came to his father’s defense, saying,
“I’m not saying that my son is not hurting from us being teenage parents. I’m not saying my son doesn’t have a testimony. What I am saying is that you were not abandoned. No one abdicated their responsibility towards you.”
Additionally, his youngest sister Kennedy posted a video to social media criticizing his actions. At one point, she said, “I’m not mad, because the opportunities that were given to me, I didn’t burn them.” Her words seemingly coincide with Ewing’s claim that Kerrion was not abandoned. In that case, he might have been suffering from low self-esteem, due in part to poor decision-making in life. Dr. Mann furthermore argued this is a major factor with oversharing, resulting in posts that brag and boast about one’s life. In his same leaked audio post, Kerrion also wrote,
“No matter what ppl think I pray my dad deals with his deep hatred toward me. I don’t feel safe around him at all. This recording is recent it is not from 2018 just to clarify. Im going to learn from these experiences, live my life in peace and make beautiful art”
Arguably, Franklin’s son posted his video to show followers his resilience despite hardships. This is made clear when Kerrion wrote about learning from his experiences and creating beautiful art as a result.
The same potential attitudes displayed in Kerrion can also be said of Saweetie, who when posting about her breakup touched on Quavo being unfaithful in their relationship. She furthermore claimed to have “checked out a long time ago” and walked away to gain peace and freedom. Both statements align with Dr. Mann’s theories on over-sharing and loneliness, along with low self-esteem. Another point to consider, however, is the need for validation.
In “The Psychology of Social Media — Why We Feel the Need to Share,” Victoria Halina argued some addicted to sharing personal stories online might need to find validation from others. However, this may come at the expense of their own happiness. When Saweetie posted about moving on from her relationship, she received much support from both fans and onlookers. Perhaps, this helped the rapper feel validated in her decision-making. While some might argue validation from social media should not affect her actions, it could potentially ease the pain of flaunting lavish gifts given by her ex-lover in the past and how she claimed being valued meant having a healthy relationship, communication, getting gifts, and being spoiled. Arguably, Saweetie’s definition for how she felt valued was vague and did not negate cheating — someone can fit her criteria and still entertain other women.
For Saweetie, sharing her relationship status and how she plans to move on could have potentially eased her embarrassment from ending a widely publicized affair. On the other hand, Kerrion might have felt validated concerning his life decisions after sharing private conversations between he and Franklin, thinking it would make his father look bad. Despite their possible attempts at using social media to feel better, however, both parties run the risk of dependency for happiness. One must look inwardly towards a healthier, more sustainable way of developing and maintaining self-worth.