Famous people are merely folks that just happen to be good at what they do. Tom Brady can throw a football particularly well. Channing Tatum has nailed the smile that makes hearts throb. The late Steve Jobs figured out the world’s need for software and ran with it. Heidi Klum knows how to make anything look good on a runway. In a matter of hours Justin Bieber’s concert can sell out of tickets. Sure, these people are pretty good at their respective life calling. I get it. But what I don’t get is why so many people care and invest time into these lives, none of which are their own and whose parallels are quite distant. So much so that we feel the need to stalk celebrities in their every move once they step out of the house. The media takes pictures and hovers microphones to capture the next update for the latest gossip column. Unlike the disturbing number of people out there, I have no interest in knowing what color shoes Kim Kardashian wore out to lunch two hours ago or who Alex Rodriguez slept with last night. Unless I know them personally, then most of the time I’m not interested. The few exceptions include attractive shirtless men at the beach, but that’s a different story.
I bring up this subject because our generation is the last to really know what privacy was as we continue to lead our lives in this constantly evolving world. This revolution is changing the way we act, speak, and play. I’d like to think that I’m just as private as the next person, but our levels of privacy change every time we dabble in the social media world. There’s a part of me that doesn’t mind the revealing sides of social media. In fact, I’m fairly confident that my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even this blog, are good representations of my interests and can give a general idea of who I am. In a nutshell; I’m an Old-Fashioned Virginian that constantly surrounds herself with sports (particularly college football), converses with fun and interesting people, eats a more than average amount of Chipotle, loves her family and friends, and enjoys traveling the world. If prospective employers were to look at my various social media profiles, there’s not a doubt in my mind that they would find anything that would come back to haunt me. Or, at least I think so. If my Grandmother were to scroll through my twitter feed I don’t think she’d see anything that would kick her off the rocking chair. Mom wouldn’t choke on her sweet tea when looking at my Instagram photos. Dad wouldn’t uncross his arms to adjust his glasses while double-taking the pictures that I’m tagged in on Facebook. I’m realizing how exposed our world really is, as all the secret hiding spots are no longer a secret. I’m planning for the zero privacy era as I act accordingly in refraining from dancing on the tables in the paparazzi’s favorite bars. For if I ever were to become a public figure it would turn me from honorable to infamous.
I’ve found that in most cases, it is in one’s own words, actions, and associations that will determine if their secrets remain as secrets. The public lifestyle and the media exposure that goes along with it tends to dig at facts that the celebrity tries to keep covered. If the public figure itself doesn’t say it under their will, then I’m not interested. It is there that I draw the line. If they are provoked to say or do something that they wouldn’t naturally claim, I don’t want to hear it.
There is this fascinating need of many people to know about and meet these celebrities, and I find it is driven in part by social media. It’s a vicious cycle; consumers want to hear it, gossip magazines provide it, social media outlets provide opinions about it. What these “juicy” stories do is make people more susceptible to being star-struck. In a sense, if 20 middle school girls were to meet Justin Bieber, half of them would faint on the spot because the most perfect, “god-like” figure has floated from the heavens to give them a hug. But why? Sure, he’s a good-looking fella with a cool style that sings cute songs, but who’s to say the guy sitting next to you in chemistry class couldn’t do the same thing two years from now? I’ve never met the guy, but aside from his various talents, I’m pretty sure he’s fairly normal like the rest of us. He too sleeps in a bed at night and puts his pants on the same way you and I do every morning. Once Usher exposed Justin Bieber to the high life, it was if instantly everyone wanted to know how many pets he had, his middle name, and his favorite flavor of ice cream. Facts that were once unimportant quickly became worldwide news.
Photo courtesty of ElHormiguero // Flickr
In all, I sometimes feel bad for these celebrities. It seems media can push them to their downfall when pursuing the information that the public wants/needs to hear. Social media outlets are a place for rumors to float around and overly obsessed fans can nag celebrities 24 hours a day. Even closest “friends” turn out to not have that celebrity’s best interest in mind because they too fell into the star struck gaze. My mom always reminds me that it is during your hardest struggles and your proudest moments that you will truly find out who your friends are. Celebrities can sometimes seem to unfortunately fail to choose their friends wisely.
What this pursuit of intimate details in personal lives has created is lack of self-assurance. People now more than ever look to celebrities for both inspiration and confirmation for their actions, even if they are detrimental. To suffice the wants and needs of our society, media is forced (and therefore can reason their action) to shine light on celebrities in a way that has never been done before. Celebrities no longer have rugs to sweep secrets under. Our society demands more than just the famous person’s respective talent; we demand full exposure and will drill them until we get it. This revolution and obsession for constant gossip simply promotes imitations rather than individuality. This movement as well as media itself is giving the term “media” a bad rap. One of my favorite quotes is by H. Jackson Brown and is fitting to this post. He said, “let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.” Looking to celebrities for inspiration is one thing, but drilling them to an uncomfortable extent is another. If we focus on our own lives rather than obsessing on others than maybe we can all gain a little more confidence in what it is that we as individuals bring collectively to the world.