Brangelina divorce: Life lessons we learned from the social media reaction

News of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie breaking up has predictably blown through social media like a storm of pity and schadenfreude. Here are five early lessons we can take away.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Gael Cooper
Leslie Katz
2 min read
Enlarge Image

CNN busts out the big-guy font for the news.

Screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Hey, all you space aliens out there? Tuesday might be a good day to land an army of flying saucers, because no one will pay any attention. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are divorcing, and the media is in a feeding frenzy.

Everyone from TMZ, which broke the news, to the staid New York Times ran a story. Not to be outdone, CNN, whose motto is "Go there," actually went there, at one point busting out the "WORLD WAR III BEGINS"-size font to cover the divorce and shoving the New York bombing to the margins.

Social media quickly built Meme Central around Jennifer Aniston, who's been divorced from Pitt for more than a decade and married to actor Justin Theroux for over a year. But in Memeland, she's celebrating, boogying down like she's still Rachel Green on "Friends" spiking the Thanksgiving Day football in Jolie's face.

Yes, a real family is breaking up, and that's never easy, but the people involved here are so rich and beautiful, and so, so famous, it doesn't seem real. Hence the memes, and the GIFs, and the multiple think pieces on what we think about when we're thinking about people we kind of forgot about until now.

Watching the early news explosion is kind of educational. Here are 5 lessons we picked up.

Lesson No. 1: Romantic illusions die hard

What, people projecting their own starry-eyed romantic fantasies onto strangers' relationships? Never!

Lesson No. 2: Team Aniston never forgets

Lesson No. 3: Perspective, people

OK, we may secretly read this stuff, but we also get to be appalled when it bumps real news off the front page.

Lesson No. 4: Even when it's not about Trump, it is

Lesson No. 5: When you're rich and beautiful, expect to be made fun of

Bonus lesson: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯