Wednesday, January 9, 2019

How the Pursuit of Fame is Warping American Society

A really good piece, from John Hawkins, at Pajamas, "The Fame Trap: How the Pursuit of Fame Is Warping American Society":

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” – Andy Warhol

Fame used to be quite the rare commodity if only because there were fewer ways to become famous in the first place. Radio really started to take off in the 1920s, half of all American families acquired a TV in 1955, and the internet only started to be widely used in the early '90s. Facebook came along in 2004, YouTube in 2005, and Twitter in 2006. In 1991, there were 90 adult magazines in America. Today, there are millions of porn websites. The first UFC was in 1993. Amazon sells roughly 15 million regular books per year and another 22 million on Kindle. Amazon did not exist in 1993.

Because of the vast number of websites on the internet looking for something to cover, the almost inexhaustible number of large niches out there, and the nature of social media, fame seems closer than ever for most people and for that reason, more people than ever seem to be seeking it.

We have reality TV shows, where unstable, explosive people are put together and the rest of us “oooh and aaah” at the crazy things they do. Are you good at a video game? Well, there are plenty of people like you with hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitch and YouTube. Some people even go pro. There are also more than a few attractive women putting up pictures of themselves on Instagram looking sexy and getting contributions towards, well, whatever it is they do on Patreon. YouTube also has plenty of personalities making big bucks playing a role. Some of the numbers are just staggering.


I only ate LUNCHABLES for 24 hours: 2.5 million views



Incidentally, the #1 channel on YouTube, PewDiePie, has 80 million subscribers. That’s greater than the population of the entire United States in 1900.

Of course, when you are talking about micro-doses of fame, they’re even easier to get.

Go scream at Ted Cruz and his wife while they’re having dinner and you can guarantee that tens of millions of people will see it. Tell a sad story about how someone didn’t tip you or a fast-food worker was mean to you and you can make headlines all over the country. Say something witty or maybe even not all that witty and if it catches the eye of someone famous and he retweets it, you may get tens of thousands of new followers and hundreds of thousands of likes. Candace Owens’ entire career on the Right is built on the fact that Kanye West liked what she was tweeting. And there are more than a few people with 50,000+ followers because Donald Trump retweeted them. Get enough Instagram or Twitter followers and you get treated like you’re important. Are you famous if you have 50,000 or 100,000 people following you on some social network? Not really, but the level of validation must feel like it. Then, there’s Joe and Jill Average's Facebook page. Here’s the best selfie they took out by the lake. It only took them 17 tries to get that shot. Here they are on a trip to Las Vegas, beside a pretty girl, making a goofy face at a statue.

You might argue that once you’re getting down to this level, people are chasing validation more than fame, but it’s not that different. They’re creating a brand that they hope will get as many people as possible to respond positively to them instead of showing their real life.

Of course, that’s not the only way we change our lives for fame. Those of us who have been around the internet for a while can remember when trolling was considered something unusual done by misanthropes living in their moms’ basements. Today, trolling is commonplace and is done by everyone from the president of the United States on down. Why? Because if you want that fame and attention, one of the best ways to get it is to find a popular post and post something that will irritate most of the people reading it. Then you’ll get lots of hate and aggravate lots of people, but you also may get new followers along with lots of likes and shares.

Not every person chasing that fame is inauthentic, bad or doing something wrong; nor is fame in and of itself a bad thing. But, what is chasing that fame turning us into as a society? What happens when hundreds of millions of people are looking to feel special for a little while as the likes, follows, and shares roll in or alternately, among the more dedicated, looking for a way to get their name in the news?

How many women do you think grew up dreaming of dressing in lingerie and offering lewds on Patreon to entice horny losers to give them money? How many people are wasting their lives on social media? I ask that as I just noticed a reply from someone on Twitter who has done 134K tweets with only 2,868 followers. What could she have done with that time if she had applied it to something meaningful in her life? That applies to what most of us are doing on social media. How much of Twitter is just people being deliberately cruel to other people or saying crazy things to get likes, shares and followers? 25 percent? 40 percent? 50 percent?
Keep reading.

Reading that line about lewd photos offered for money on Patreon, I just noticed that Bridget Phetasy's deleted her Twitter account. (She's still on Patreon, though.) I thought her breast photos were kind of weird, actually, and I certainly didn't think she was conservative, although a lot of folks on Twitter did.

In any case, I've posted 174 thousand tweets on that stupid website, although I'd argue that I've also been able to do "something meaningful" in my life, heh. In 2018, for example, I posted just 1,578 blog posts at American Power (check the sidebar). I spent much more time reading than ever, and I've been more involved as a father and a husband. Besides, as I mentioned the other day, I'm looking to spend less time on the Twitter hate-dump in 2019. All the best people are being deplatformed, and more and more I see people complaining that it's all hate all the time.

So, it's not quantity but quality. Thanks for tuning in folks. I'll still be on Twitter, because I use it as a news feed. But I'm not too worried about "validation," since it's mostly narcissists and haters on the platform nowadays anyway. (There are still some real good people using Twitter, of course, but the cost/benefit analysis is hard to justify anymore, FWIW.)

See Helen Pluckrose, for a case in point: