There is no better platform for people to show how celebrity obsessed they are than social media. I suppose before social media, people showed their dying support for a celebrity by writing them letters and fan mail, which took some time and money. However, now that social media is a major part of life, writing to celebrities is easier than ever. Not only does it barely take any effort, but celebrities have also been know to occasionally reply to a fan’s cry for attention on these platforms. This has lead to my pet peeve of celebrity obsession on social media sites and people constantly tweeting celebrities in hopes that they will get a tweet back.
This pet peeve came to my attention recently on September 4. Although Beyonce gets praised everyday on my timelines by people I follow, she was especially present because it was her birthday. The whole day, and even some days after, my Instagram and Twitter timelines were filled with posts to Beyonce. There were Beyonce tweets, pictures, memes, and hashtags everywhere I looked. The only one I could relate to was the Bill Cosby meme I’ve provided with the question, “Did Beyonce Tell You Happy Birthday???”.
I’m not just a grump who is against Beyonce or against supporting celebrities. However, I think the problem is the obsession people have with celebrities, which has hit a high point because of the access fans have to them on social networks. Social media gives fans the hope that their favorite celebrity will reply to them, much less even see what they posted. A celebrity like Beyonce has so many other people posting about their birthday that the chances of one fan’s post being seen or recognized by them is slim to none. According to Judith Donath in Sociable Media, Sociable media are suppose to bring people together and “enhance communication and the formation of social ties among people” (Donath 1). Normally, I think platforms like twitter do form social ties. In the case of tweeting celebrities, no real social tie is being made even if the person replies.
This can be said about fans standing outside their favorite artist’s show hoping to get an autograph or shake hands. No strong social tie is being made in either situation. And not only is no social tie being made, but nothing else is changing either. In Social Networking in the 1600s by Tom Standage, he examines early social networking practices used by English people in coffeehouses. As he acknowledges, some people believed that social networks were the “enemies of productivity”, but in the coffeehouses ideas from different places and people were being exchanged leading to new innovations and productivity (Standage). This is not the case when fans try to get in contact with celebrities because nothing productive usually comes from it. Some might argue that there is a satisfaction with having their idol reply, which is something I don’t agree with. If their idol were to notice their post and tweet them back, what difference would this make in their lives or anyone else’s life offline? If the celebrity replies to your tweet or birthday wish, they’re probably not thinking about it for more than a couple seconds because they have more pressing things to do in their offline life. Neither the fan’s life, nor the celebrity’s life is changed because the celebrity decided to tweet the fan back.
I think the reason this bothers me so much is that from my perspective, the actions taken online using social media networks should somehow benefit your life offline. Many of the benefits of the online world have to do with community building as talked about in the video An Anthropological Introduction to YouTubeby Marc Wesch. Building a community online can make some people feel less lonely or make them feel better in their offline life. However, I can’t see anyone benefiting in their offline life just from having a celebrity tweet them back online.