Thursday, February 12, 2015

On "Knowing" Celebrities and Online Relationships

Sometimes I stop to think about how strange of a world we live in with technology. It's strange in a lot of ways, but the one that occupies my thoughts the most is how we can communicate so easily with people that we have never met face-to-face.

That is also interesting in a number of ways, and I think about it a lot. One aspect of it that is really interesting to me is how easy it makes to connect with celebrities. Now, obviously it's not actually all that easy to carry on a conversation with a celebrity online. It's basically impossible. But in comparison to your chances before the Internet, I'd say you actually have pretty good odds these days. And even if you don't get to be that lucky person (I've gotten extremely lucky and had some form of contact with a couple of my favorite celebrities. It was glorious.), you're still probably going to be seeing some form of communication with them and the world that is far more personal than it ever has been in the past.

I'm not being original when I say that I think this tends to make people feel like they know celebrities in a way that was never possible in the past. I think a lot of people (possibly a group that consists more of people who have lived shorter percentages of their lives with the Internet and social media) are skeptical of this and like to stress that these fans don't really know these celebrities. They're under false impressions.

While I get that point, I also don't entirely agree with it. It's not that I think fans truly know celebrities in a personal sort of way that you would know someone you're actually friends with. However, I do think they know celebrities in a way now that they didn't then. I think of Youtubers, as well. They're not traditional celebrities, but they can have large fanbases. I think a lot of the appeal is how normal they seem, and the Youtube format tends to be more personal. Again, it's not the same as being friends with a person, but I do think it can lead to fans knowing the people they're a fan of. It's not the same as personally knowing them, but it's something entirely new.

And I think that's the biggest thing for me when it comes to things like this. It's entirely new. The Internet has so drastically changed the world in so many ways, including when it comes to relationships. I think there's so much pressure to compare online relationships with "IRL" relationships, and I'm not entirely convinced that it's the best course of action. It's an entirely new way of knowing people and interacting with them. Maybe we should just accept it as a new form of communication without worrying about trying to make sense of it in more traditional terms.

The biggest point of this though is that I really don't know. It's too new, and on top of that, it keeps changing. I do know that I think that's a good thing, and I think online relationships have just as much potential to be good or bad as offline relationships. I think most of their less than stellar reputation is unwarranted. But beyond that I think I'm still kind of trying to figure out how it all works just like the rest of the world.

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