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Channeling Our Inner Celebrity Through Twitter and Social Media

After I finish the new (unannounced) book that I’m feverishly writing, I plan to finally pursue “Internet Famous – The rise of micro celebrity and the end of privacy.”

Alexia Tsotsis (disclosure, she’s a dear friend) recently wrote an intriguing article at the LA Weekly entitled, “Is All of Hollywood the Bitch in Twitter’s Sex Tape or Just P. Diddy?”

She links to a recent article written by A.J. Keen, author of the controversial book, Cult of the Amateur, in which he defends TechCrunch and Michael Arrington in the Twittergate scandal. In his article, he also observes that technology start-ups have become the “hottest celebrities in America… receiving the same kind of obsessionally intimate coverage from the media that was once reserved for kings of pop like Michael Jackson or Elvis.”

He is a brilliant thinker and writer. If you read his book today, I promise it will resonate with you at a level that was previously impossible, especially now that we’re much more humbled by Web 2.0 than when we were initially enthralled by it.

However, his quote, if for a moment, opened up the mental floodgates that have held back so many psychological reflections and cycles of personal introspection over the years related to the socialization of the web and media. I could have started my next, next book, right now. Instead I simply commented on Alexia’s post, and I elected to also share the unabridged version with you here.

“To further expound on Andrew Keen’s perspective, I believe that Twitter is a media darling simply because we, the bitches, choose to tweet about our lives relentlessly. It is with undying aspirations that we subconsciously yearn for recognition. If Twitter is popularized and actively discussed in the media, then it somehow justifies our obsession with sharing everything about who we are, what we love, and what we’re doing. It’s not necessarily technology companies that are becoming the ‘hottest celebrities in America’ because of their shiny new features, it’s us psychologically channeling our subliminal desire for recognition and micro celebrity through these social networks, that transforms them into the celebrities in which we can live through vicariously. It’s a Freudian form of quietly, but surely, provoking varying forms and levels of desired Web-based fame that transcends online and offline through a series of passive-attention seeking behaviors.”


With Social Media comes great responsibility…

Please also read, “Significant” and “The End of the Innocence.”

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74 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Channeling Our Inner Celebrity Through Twitter and Social Media”

  1. It's precisely this obsessive celeb'-Web2.0 melding that I find a complete turn off.

    Michael Arrington is just a joke figure, who seems to be collecting death threats like they were trophies.

    While people are transfixed by the politics and the soap opera, good stories get buried under a land slide of transient, odious spats and cat fights…. Read more

    So boring.

    • Autom says:

      This is the best comment among the lot. I agree with you Wayne. I also appreciate that you didn't write a dissertation to prove your point (for which some pedantic, verbose people are infamous)

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  3. gravity7 says:


    I totally agree with you that it's not the tools but the practices that are behind the current social media celebrity craze. There is a cult of the amateur effect, but the adoption of twitter by celebs raises the stakes and changes some of the psychological motivation and desires. Where the cult of the amateur can deliver itself an audience of peers (think p2p), celebrity attendance is tantalizing, validating, and spectacular.

    Socially speaking, “the society of the spectacle” unfolding in celeb-centered audiences on twitter have much more in common with the cult of personality than with the cult of the amateur. I mean in an old school media kind of way, as in cult of image…

    When image and celebrity presence motivate social participation, you have what some call “mimetic desire,” which is a kind of socialized desire mediated by the fact that others want the same thing. “I desire the car because you do” is mimetic.

    If you were to start writing that next, next book Brian, it'd be great to see a distinction between social media presence built around image vs presence built around conversation/participation.

    I don't know if this is a real distinction any longer — perhaps tweeting and retweeting celebs is participation (on twitter). But a part of me still believes that reputations earned by means of community participation (old school twitter) produce a different kind of social media influence, too. Surely, influence is a reflection of how we know a person; celebs are known by mainstream reputation not by personal interaction.

    Is this a lasting and concrete distinction, or is it precisely the line blurred by social media?


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