The internet, the web, the great abyss that has taken over the world as we know it is the greatest and creepiest invention since… well, actually: is there anything to which it can compare? Not likely. Since the advent of this all-encompassing phenomenon, we know more about everything – most of all: each other. Social networking websites have made it extremely easy to find out all sorts of things about each other, and has made the job of a stalker much easier and more comfortable; in some ways, most of us have become mild to moderate stalkers ourselves. Come on, fess up. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’ve lurked around MySpace or Facebook in the wee hours of the morning looking up information on that friend of a friend of your second cousin’s step-sister who you think is just cute as all get out. You know where they live, and who they hang out with. You’ve secretly looked up your ex, and you’ve likely looked up the website of your favourite movie star, band, or cultural icon. I am not going to lie and tell you that I haven’t done it all, because I have. I always feel a little creepy afterward, though.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have had serious celebrity fixations in my life; several of them, in fact. I’ve swooned over pictures of handsome movie stars during many a late night web session. I figure that most people’s curiosity is benign, and that it’s fairly harmless to surf the web for photos of such public figures. The interesting thing about doing such, however, is that it does sometimes create a false sense of closeness to the object of the attention. The idea that you (the ordinary Joe, sitting in front of a computer) know something private or significant about a public figure or someone who you admire, gives you a sense that they’ve let you into their lives in some way. Because you know their public persona, there is a feeling that you are, somehow, closer to them. This is largely not the case, however. The interesting thing that I have discovered about this whole web stalking, celebrity culture issue is that celebrities are using the web to make themselves even more popular: they’re creating MySpace accounts, Facebook accounts, etc., because of that sense of closeness that fans will feel when they get the chance to be on their friends list. Seriously. There are marketing people out there whose job it is to create these public profiles for celebrities and major public figures so that their fan base can gain more access to them.
I’m sure at least some of you know that Britney Spears writes blog entries on her website every now and then; it’s likely that her marketing executive tells her when to write them and roughly what to put in them. To tell you the truth, when it comes to Britney, I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t write them at all. One can never really know for sure whether someone of her status does the leg work or not. Never mind Britney though, does anyone remember when Paris’ medical information was leaked onto the net? Did anyone think that it just happened? Not likely. Of course, Britney and Paris are the queens of publicly humiliating themselves to get a bit more press, and let’s face it: it always works.
I wonder, though, is it a safe thing for celebrities to do such things? I mean, it might help their careers, but does it make them easier targets for people who are looking for an outlet for their curiosity, or maybe their rage, or sexual frustration for that matter! Celebrities are simply people with magnetic personalities who have good business sense and a marketing team. Some might say that they bring it on themselves, and to a certain extent, that’s true. But are we in a world where you can’t be popular if you can’t be stalked? It certainly seems that the US and their system of celebrity is that way. As such, the rest of North America – and us, ya know: Canada! – behaves similarly. Now, it would seem to me that Canadians are not quite so crazy about celebrities, but maybe that’s just my wishful thinking and Canadian snobbery. But when information is as easy to obtain as it is today, what’s to stop someone from suddenly invading your life?
The only comfort that I can see is that so many of today’s young people are glued to screens of some sort for a large part of their day that they don’t even have the social skills or personal courage to go up to someone they look up to; and that’s a completely different and more worrying matter.