Like other celebrities, the singer has been subject to pressure on Twitter, where many users have argued that he has an obligation to share information about causes like the Black Lives Matter movement on his social media platforms.
When Joseph posted a lighthearted tweet on Wednesday that seemed to respond to this pressure, he ended up stoking more controversy on the site.
“you guys keep asking me to use my platforms,” he wrote, along with two pictures of himself in high platformed shoes. “feels good to dust these bad boys off.”
The joke didn’t go over well with many Twitter users, who accused the entertainer of taking a lighthearted attitude toward something serious.
“no that’s actually not what we mean,” wrote @heathoween. “we would like you to speak up on the injustice in this country”
“:( it’s disappointing to see you joke about this dude,” wrote @elliotleemusic.
Rather than directly address the criticism right away, Joseph followed up with several tweets about the importance of mental health. He wrote that he doesn’t know if he “can even handle everything that’s happening right now” and that he “can only carry so much” mentally and emotionally. The singer also tweeted statistics about suicide rates as well as a link to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.
“i respect all the warriors out there fighting for different causes,” he wrote in one of the tweets. “there is honor in it, purpose, and it can make our world better. i just want to remind you what i’m fighting for: your mental health is more important today than it ever has been. you’re not alone.”
Many fans, however, still weren’t satisfied, dismissing Joseph’s references to his own mental health and ramping up the pressure to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“just admit you were wrong and share resources that are actually useful,” wrote @rosecolorsummer.
“if you cant take the heat stay out of the kitchen,” wrote @safetyIer. “you made an insensitive ‘joke’ that you have yet to apologise for. you can sit and preach about mh but consider how many poc’s mh has been destroyed these past few months. how many lgbt peoples mh has crashed. think, tyler”
Joseph eventually addressed the criticism, at first defending his original joke as “fantastic” before issuing an apology a couple hours later.
“my tweet wasn’t suppose to be about human rights,” he wrote. “so in case you are wondering where i stand: Black Lives Matter. i just wanted to take a moment to raise awareness about something else that has meant a lot to me for a long time. but now I see there is no room for that right now… im truly sorry if it hurt anyone.”
Amid the backlash, many Twitter users also came to Joseph’s defense, denouncing the growing trend of bullying celebrities to weigh in on social issues.
“celebrities aren’t required to speak on political issues,” wrote @eeeeeeejzjd. “whilst it’s nice to do so and it’s opportune for them to ~use their platform for good~ they definitely aren’t obligated to nor should everyone hassle people into publicly involving themselves w certain organizations!!”
“Wtf people are actually crazy,” wrote @Vitocornal_exe. “he doesn’t need to speak up about the ‘social issues’ because you want to, we are not the boss of him, we follow him because of his music, we can’t make him talk about what we want, is his Twitter, his life.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) at any time day or night or chat online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.
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