Who among us can recall life before online social networking? Those hazy events which predate the Facebook status update and Twitter feed somehow seem less authentic in light of the continuous stream of information to which we now have unlimited access. By now, our favorite corporations, personal acquaintances, and public figures have all become accustomed to delivering their bulletins immediately and in as few words as possible. Our collective case of Attention Defecit Disorder, brought on by years of frenetic clicking and scrolling, is thus exacerbated. While mid-century devotees of Marilyn Monroe may have had to wait a week before learning of her latest irreverent statement to the paparazzi, we’re mercifully granted access to our own young starlets’ inner sanctums as events unfold, ensuring that no nightclub visit or cappuccino errand goes undocumented. Our desperate longing to bear witness to the decadence and tragic failures of their lives and careers is fed by their willingness to indulge the public.
If we are honest, most of us would admit that at times we crave this false intimacy. In the era of Youtube, where the promise of instant fame is anything but empty, our more conventionally famous figures seek new ways to cling to their notoriety. Desperate times call for shameless measures. Semi-nude photos leaked by the subjects themselves are reproduced on gossip blogs in a matter of minutes, and staged scathing exchanges between stars are taken at face value by those of us whose personal interactions are a bit more mundane. Celebrity court dates and parole violations are no longer leaked by jealous rivals; the offending debutantes themselves must now launch preemptive strikes to state their case.
It seems as though this easy access to what was once more discreet has stoked our sense of entitlement in ways that ancient tabloid prints could only dream of. A discerning public demands the unfiltered scoop, and we won’t settle for those grainy camera shots of yore. We savvy, modern consumers reserve our right to render snap judgments from behind the illuminated screens which obscure our own inadequacies. As long as our private embarrassments are not on public display, as long as we sit safely in our homes, not caught in a five-star hotel surrounded by drugs and questionable company, we don’t have to address our own harmful habits, do we?
In stark reality, it’s as though the delight we take in others’ misfortunes, the sheer pleasure we derive from the all-too-human weaknesses displayed by the rich and famous, only plays into our self-assured pride. We are more connected than ever to our idols and their failures, but the questions must be asked: Does this serve only to make us feel better about ourselves? What do we gain from obsessing over the failures of another human being? And are we watching the lives of the rich and famous closer than our own lives and relationships?
What are your thoughts on this?
Do you believe celebrities should have more privacy?
How do you truly feel after reading tabloids?
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