Social media casts specter of popularity firstWho are the role models today in America? Thanks to social media sites and the over glorification of celebrities in the media, American children really have some horrible people to “look up to.”
By: By Cam Dickison, Superior Telegram
Who are the role models today in America? Thanks to social media sites and the over glorification of celebrities in the media, American children really have some horrible people to “look up to.”
I remember back when I was a kid. I wanted to be just like my favorite athlete, Minnesota Twins star Kirby Puckett. Puckett not only possessed the skills he needed to succeed on the baseball field, but he also was a stand up citizen. He did numerous community events for the Minneapolis/ St. Paul metro area during his professional career and carried himself in a way that was professional on and off the field.
However, as soon as Kirby’s “good guy persona” began to erode in the years before his death, some controversy began to follow him. He faced false imprisonment, fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct and fifth-degree assault charges after being accused of groping a woman in a bathroom. Puckett was found not guilty on all accounts; however, this negative persona followed him all the way to the grave.
Without the media being there to repot this issue many of the kids who looked up to Puckett never would have known about this.
Once I found out about this, I personally did look at Puckett a little differently than I had when I saw him as a role model.
And to think all this happened in early-2000 before we had websites like Facebook or Twitter around to stir the debate even more.
The world we live in today thrives on the social media consumption through platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
According to the article “Twitter, Music and Monetization,” Twitter boasts 200 million registered accounts and averages 140 million tweets per day. That is quite a bit of activity each day.
Twitter.com notes ex-presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has 1.72 million followers. This is nothing compared to reality TV star, Nicole Polizzi, aka Snooki. Snooki has a massive 6 million followers on Twitter — 5 million more than a presidential candidate.
That is insane. If that doesn’t tell you where priorities land in the Twitter world, I don’t know what will.
With reality TV shows popping up everywhere on cable TV nowadays, people have put the power in the hands of those reality “stars.”
I find it embarrassing that six million people care about what Snooki has to say. She landed a reality TV show spot and now she has become more “famous” than a presidential candidate in the twitter world. All thanks to her stupidity and ability to make the audience tune in and laugh.
I know that Twitter doesn’t represent everything in the online community today. But the numbers do speak.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where kids get up and check their Facebook or Twitter before watching the daily news each morning. People are so obsessed with this phenomenon. They have the need to feel “connected” to what is happening in their social media cyber playground.
In an article from USA Today, Melanie Wells of New York City public relations firm DiGennaro Communications explains her theory on the phenomenon. She says there is this “need to feed the social media beast,” Users try “to fill our Facebook pages and other outlets with material that shows we’re interesting, out and about, and on the scene.” Going on to say that such sites have “encouraged a type of narcissism in American lives, as well as globally, where everyone has to parade dubious accomplishments in front of the world.”
Not only the need to boast our own accomplishments but the need to try to connect with our favorite celebrities also exists. Many times, I have seen tweets to celebrities asking for a retweet or reply. The user expresses how much they love the celebrity and how a retweet would make their day.
In reality, they are just people like you and I. And sure enough, if John Doe does get that retweet from his favorite celebrity on Twitter, he will be sure to post all about this amazing achievement.
I have seen this happen countless times. No one cares that some B list celebrity retweeted you.
It’s almost like this whole social media phenomenon is just one big popularity contest.
Sure, you may have one million followers, but what have you done to add value to this society we live in today?
I will be the first to admit, I can be caught many times during the day scoping my Twitter or Facebook account, however that is not where I rely on all my news and information.
If we don’t take steps to get our children off of these sites and spend more time outside or reading a book, we might all have children that grow up to be just like Snooki, and I think we can all agree we wouldn’t want our daughter ending up like her.
Cam Dickison is a University of Minnesota Duluth student from North Oaks, Minn. This piece was written as an assignment for his media effect class.