We are all witnesses.
New York magazine’s recent article entitled “The Weird World of Internet Celebrity” opened a pandora’s box of trouble and intrigue for at least one digitally toxified humanist. The article itself was well-rendered but there is an element of Access Hollywood gawk in the reportage.
If only the modern age was an open-source experiment from which we could all truly prosper. But often it’s only those that fully embrace technology and the raw egoism of social media that have a leg up in this scenario.
Sure, there are millionaire developers, oil tycoons and real estate magnates that walk the streets anonymously. But under-the-radar success requires monastic discipline and probably a bit of Jedi sorcery thrown in.
In this era of unprecedented Internet stardom, it appears that anyone with the semblance of a business model and an Instagram page, Youtube account or a Vine app can have a reasonable shot at fame and fortune.
Even if the reality is only one in 500,000 truly make a name for themselves off something as banal as Hollywood vlogging (Lohanthony and a cast of others that all should remain nameless) or twerking (Ms. Delevingne and another cast of opportunists) or the like, that’s not going to stop many of us from pushing something into the ether(net) with the vague hope of someone with wealth and/or influence noticing.
The Internet has given rise to infinite possibility but only the most vapid publicity-addled fiend would fail to feel the tension within what has transpired in the name of progress. Many have sold some or all of their souls in the pursuit of absolute recognition.
Everyone has to make a living, but why must we speed our way through life? Why such haste to share everything we have seen, done or made?
Relax man, let it be, this is the digital generation. Stop hating.
OK, hate doesn’t look good on anyone and spite for the way things have gone will only garner spite in return.
The compromise? Some sort of system of checks and balances for the ghastly colossus that media has become.
Before we try to figure out such a system, we must first discover what is perceived to be valued in this world and why. Let’s call our current values system, The LeBron James Model.
This win-at-all costs model through stacking the deck has essentially choked the life out of the underdog—the NBA may in fact be the realization of capitalism and/or natural selection.
There used to be something of a continuum for the haves and have-nots but the middle class is reaching fairy tale status. Upward mobility has given way to instant mobility and those of us not moving fast enough (read: tech-savvy) are left chasing phantoms for our next meal.
Ostentation often trumps sincere talent. Let’s call this The Kardashian Quotient. There have always been fame-hungry throngs, but has there ever been an age of such unabashed id?
Any event, sporting or otherwise, often takes a backseat to the talking points that come as a result. Phenomena like the NBA Finals or the World Cup derive relevance from their social media reception and proliferation.
TMZ is a trusted source for breaking news. With ubiquitous cameras and paparazzi lurking at every turn, news is literally being made as a result of people flinching under the ever-watchful iPhone in the sky.
The only way to ensure we all stay grounded in this age is to have an austere voice that reels us back in. When a Donald Sterling scenario happens (modern precedents go back to the OJ trial on through to Monica Lewinsky and Tiger Woods), we need a Walter Cronkite to disseminate “just the facts.”
We need a hub of information devoid of spin.
But spin sells.
OK, perhaps we should then respect the power of the Internet but treat it more like a modern idiot box. We know that the NSA has access to everything and that market research companies mine our social media, but some of us are better equipped to live off the land than others.
We wonder how many one-percenters have read Dostoyevsky’s Notes From Underground. Perhaps this little text should be required reading for all aspiring Internet stars.
The powers-that-be are not concerned with anything but keeping power. Enfranchising everyone would not work in favor of corporate America.
We’re aware of the contradiction here: Using the same medium you are criticizing is a bit of a slippery slope.
It’s only the most ruthlessly heathen elements of the Internet (and society) that are the most troublesome. The Internet is just one mechanism that has dehumanized and desensitized us all.
Take it away Howard Beale:
To quote rapper Jamall Buford, we are all something of a Victim of A Modern Age. In the pre-digital formative era, we were constantly told to turn our music down and turn off the damn video games.
Did we listen? Hell, no. Were we a bit foolish for not heeding these warnings? Afraid, so.
No one likes a Killjoy, so think of this as a suggestive diatribe rather than a fire-and-brimstone manifesto.
Keep tweeting, Vining and Instagramming, make hilarious cat videos, blog about your feelings. Invent the next Snapchat. All we are saying is give discretion a chance.
Our feeble human minds may run out of bandwidth if we don’t.