Is following celebrity gossip a waste of time?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2008, 12:00am

Each week our two teenagers debate a hot topic. This week ...

Dennis Wu, 17, St Joseph's College

As long as we don't indulge in it too much, I can't see any reason why we shouldn't spend time taking in celebrity gossip.

Catching a glimpse of the lives of celebrities gives us a chance to taste a lifestyle most of us will never experience. We have to put up with a mundane daily life and celebrity gossip can brighten up our day. There's essentially nothing wrong with spending time reading about the lives of others as long as it is done out of curiosity and not malice.

Most Hongkongers love spending time discussing celebrities' lives, and if you want to converse with someone on the street, your best bet is to start the conversation with an affair a certain movie star is having or the wealth a scion has inherited.

It's sad that a lot of Hongkongers don't have a comprehensive knowledge of the world and can't engage in an intelligent conversation, but we have to live with it. If you want to maintain a social network in Hong Kong you have to be up to date with the lives of celebrities. Try discussing Kosovo's independence and you get blank stares.

Lastly, gossipping about celebrities allows us to avoid their mistakes. I know the 'learn from others' errors' argument is pretty cliched but it is definitely the most important reason to spend time learning about their lives. Everybody saw what happened to Pete Doherty and Kate Moss. There is no better deterrent to prevent people from going down the same path.

Esther Pang, 16, Diocesan Girls' School

Celebrity news has become so popular that many forms of media are dedicated to broadcasting the latest in the lives of the rich and famous. So it's not hard to find out what's going on in their lives.

Many people have a great interest in their favourite stars and take the time each day to read miscellaneous facts about them. Although there's nothing outrageously wrong with admiring someone and learning more about them, some people spend too much time on this.

It's not a crime to read celebrity gossip, everyone should have something they like to do. But there is a limit to everything, and excess time on one activity isn't healthy.

Something as simple as signing up for celebrity newsletters may take up a lot of valuable time. If one signs up for several of these letters one could waste a lot of time reading them each day.

Does one really need to do this? Even though hobbies are not supposed to have any educational purpose, one has to admit there is little constructive in reading celebrity gossip.

Reading gossip about a person one is hardly likely to improve one's mind or body. Should one really spend time doing something that doesn't contribute too much?

Reading celebrity gossip every now and then isn't a bad thing to do. When such activities are only occasional they can be good relaxation, and good topics for discussion.

But it should not be too high on one's list of priorities.