Everyone Wants to Be Famous
While watching the documentary Generation Like, I connected with it on multiple occasions. Actually, I probably connected with this documentary wayyy too much, as it included some of my favorite YouTube stars and franchises (yes, I’m also obssessed with The Hunger Games Cieli Lynch). Like Tyler Oakley, I’m obsessed with pop culture.
Ironically, earlier in the day I was telling my friend how my 15-year-old cousin will put up a selfie or a picture with a friend on Instagram and get over 100 likes. Every time. She doesn’t even have random people following her; they are all her friends. I, on the other hand, get an average of about 25 likes on each Insta picture I put up. Additionally, just like one of the girls in the video, my cousin uses her Instagram to show snippets of her singing. Apparently, there’s even a generation gap between college students and high school students because none of the high schoolers nowadays get Facebook. It’s all about the Instagram and how many likes they can get on their photos. Facebook isn’t “cool” for them. In my case, I can put up a new profile picture on Facebook and get 100 likes because more of my friends are on Facebook.
What makes us want likes? To feel popular? Accepted? Liked? To get attention from others? The other day, the band Matt and Kim liked my Instagram picture AND favorited my tweet and I flipped out. “They actually noticed me!” I thought (just like how Ceili Lynch felt when one of the Hunger Games stars tweeted at her). But what does an electronic transmission actually do? Why is it so special? Ruskoff puts it perfectly when he says likes, friends, retweets, etc. are the “social currency of this generation.” When people like your photos, statuses or favorite your tweet or post, it’s exciting. It’s instant gratification to know someone’s paying attention to you. If one doesn’t get attention in real life, they can change their persona to someone new online.
I’ll admit it: I like getting likes. I love it when I post something funny and get fifty likes or 10 retweets. I feel happy when people like my new profile picture because it does actually give me confidence (should it though?). This phenomenon even works when I’m at work as a social media coordinator. One day I got 26 retweets from our account after posting a picture. In that case, I was anonymous. Thus, getting likes isn’t even gratification for people knowing who I am, it’s also gratification for receiving praise on my work. Additionally, the most likes I’ve ever gotten was over 350 on a post on Facebook because I had an article posted to the Huffington Post. It was insane to see that many people supporting my work and reading my article. As one of the girls in the film said, “it’s an accomplishment” to be recognized for the work you’ve done. Furthermore, the recognition from others occurs in an instant, instead of having to wait for feedback from others.
In high school, I was obsessed with Tumblr (of course I was a hipster and had it before it went mainstream). I wanted to receive as many followers as possible. I think at one point, I almost had 1,000 followers, which for a random girl from Wisconsin was kind of a lot. I would post things and long for people to “reblog” my posts to share with their followers. I once got like 3,000 notes on a post and I thought I was just a genius (I wasn’t). Instead of becoming “Tumblr Famous,” however, Tumblr just ended up wasting a lot of my time. Going back even further in time, in middle school I used to design and animate icons for AIM instant messenger and post them to Iconator.com. I remember sometimes my icons would be the “top icon” of the day on the website, and I would be so excited that people loved my oh-so-fabulous work (aka a Nick Jonas avatar). Again, it was awesome to be recognized, even if this time I was anonymous. Additionally, I related the part of the documentary of wanting to be “famous” online to back in the day when MySpace was prevelant. There were girls (and guys) who would spend ALL of their time trying to add friends and get attention. These people would literally send out things called “whore trains,” on bulletins which basically meant promoting others to add friends. Of course, you guys also remember “PC4PC,” right? These both illustrate examples of how social media allows people to get attention from people they know IRL (in real life) and who they’ve met online. Is it considered “selling out” for a person to want attention online, and once they’ve got it to continue craving attention?
YouTube is also a great example of the phenomenon of being famous from the internet. In high school, yet again me and my friends wanted to get attention from others. So what did we do? We created a YouTube channel called ItsWateverProduction and thought we were hilarious. We had like 100 subscribers, which is a low amount compared to actual stars on YouTube, but it satisfied us. There’s even an embarrassing video of us dancing that got 20,000 views.
But, enough about me. The YouTube sensation of is insane. One of my favorite YouTubers, Bethany Mota, has her own fashion line, is on Dancing With The Stars currently, on the cover of Seventeen, and is going to release music soon. All because of her subscribers on YouTube. Since June 2009, she has gained almost 7.5 million followers and almost 600,000,000 video view on one of her YouTube channels alone. She’s a “billionaire in currency” online, with an additional 2 million followers on Twitter, 1.5 million on Facebook, and a whoping 4 million followers on Instagram. A typical picture on Instagram gets at least 400,000 likes. Oh, and get this: she just turned 18. Obviously, the power of her fandom, just like Tyler Oakley’s was described in the documentary, is real. Teenage girls love her: she’s pretty, personable and talented. Bethany’s tactics to gain follwers is just like Tyler’s. Tyler said, “they act like we are friends. Part of the reason why a lot of people, like, relate to me, is that I am just one of them.” Bethany does the same, she calls her fans her “Motavators”, always tells her fans she loves them and treats them as if they are friends in real life.
Of course, her end-goal isn’t to just make friends and be famous: she makes quite a profit off of her YouTube. Companies team up with her, and many other beauty gurus, to promote their brand, while giving Bethany products or money in return. It’s fast and easy advertising because Bethany’s fans trust her opinion. Not only that, companies trust Bethany and her fans. That’s actually one of the controversies going on today in the YouTube vlogger/beauty guru/etc culture. People are getting upset that no one’s views are actually theirs anymore; just the views of a companies so that the YouTuber can make money. Is that ethical? Are these people selling out to make money?
So what’s the cost of likes, retweets, and followers? Is it ok to feel satisfied after people give you likes? Is it ok to want to be “famous” or at least recognized online?
Additionally, I found this article on being famous online: