The Paper Thin Wall
Who am I?
This is the existential question asked by humanity since he was first able to look inward and contemplate such abstract ideas but for the purpose of this article, the question is posed more as a relation to “regular folk” as opposed to “celebrities.” For the record, I am not one who really cares about the exploits of celebrities, or follows the gossip, or even know who’s who anymore to really care. However, the media and culture being what it is, one can’t help “knowing” who certain people are due to the daily barrage of celebrity gossip that passes for “news” these days. There used to be a time when celebrity gossip was reserved for the tabloid magazines specifically dedicated to such things. Newspapers were supposed to be for actual news. Now the line has completely disappeared so whenever someone “famous” picks their nose, it makes the front pages of every newspaper in the country, not to mention the billions of blogs, websites, and other on-line forums and social media.
As for social media, the old “wall” between “regular folk” and “celebrities” has become paper thin, almost dangerously so. I say dangerously because people are now able to “follow” their favorite celebrities on Twitter, Facebook and other sources, giving people the feeling that they are “closer” to the one’s they admire. One can communicate directly now whereas not so long ago, one would have to be lucky to meet them somewhere – either by design or chance – in order to have some sort of communication. Not anymore. Now all it takes is a simple click of the button and there you have it. Granted, many of these celebrities don’t usually manage their own social media sites, they hire people to do it for them, but once in a while you will come across someone who does manage the site themselves and Twitter is where you usually find them. Some of these folks are very famous but yet they feel they want to connect with their fans, audience and admirers. An admirable trait, in my opinion, but there is a potential danger lurking there for them that they have to be careful about. One wrong move can potentially destroy their careers.
Who am I?
Well, in short, a very little known writer from New York City. In the hierarchy of literary figures, it’s fair to say that I am completely and totally unknown, so I have the freedom to speak my mind without worrying about any damage to my “career” and this freedom is something not to take for granted. Had I been someone “famous”, then perhaps I would have to control what I put out there on the social media or else face the barrage of media Inquisitors, waiting to pounce on anything and turn it into “news.” I have the luxury of doing whatever the hell I damn well want to – and I love it. Celebrities, on the other hand, do not. Sure, they can speak their minds, say what they please, but they are always under the watchful eye of those who are looking to create scandal and/or looking for something to personally or professionally damage them. It happens all the time, especially when they are political.
It is well known that many Hollywood celebrities are often politically active. Many of them are completely full of shit, as we know, but there are those few who are committed to good causes and actually put their money where their mouths are and actually do something – and not for self-publicity either, but for genuine reasons. Now with the elections being a mere few days away, many a celebrity are out there supporting one candidate or another, one cause or another, and are using the social media to further their causes or agendas. We just gone through a period of presidential debates, so the social media has been flooded with opinions about them. Everyone from the cranky teenager to activists to housewives to celebrities have all thrown their two cents in, saying something about a period of time where passions generally run high. I, too, was one of them.
Because of the nature of what I do, I too utilize the social media and Twitter as one of the avenues to connect with people and hopefully find and build my own audience. That’s personal, of course. To the average Twitter user, I’m just one of a billion others who signed up to it. They can see what I do from the profile, of course, but since I’m hardly a household name, it’s essentially irrelevant. Millions of others are doing the same thing, so it’s nothing special. It was during the presidential debates that I decided to go on and see what was being said, reading the opinions and reactions from my fellow users. It was a chance “tweet” that I saw, from one of these big Hollywood celebrities, that caught my eye.
Regarding this celebrity, it’s someone who I am aware of, naturally, but I can’t say that I know much about him/her other than who it was, otherwise I don’t follow this person’s work but what this person wrote intrigued me enough to say what the hell, let me respond, speak my piece, just for shits and giggles. I thought it would just be lost among the millions of others out there desperate to make some sort of personal contact with someone they admire, perhaps even get a millisecond of interaction that would make them feel good. I had no such illusions, nor did I really care. Much to my surprise, my little comment was “retweeted” to all this person’s four million followers. I thought, cool, thanked this person for it and moved on. My “personal connection” to a big Hollywood celebrity, as fleeting and irrelevant as it was. Still, I admit, it felt good to think that this person felt my little “tweet” was interesting enough to want to share with his/her four million followers. End of story – or so I thought.
My “tweet”: I wish more important issues were addressed (thank the debate format for that), nevertheless, he still has my vote. (Referring to President Obama).
Not an hour later, I get this response from a Twitter user: Ha! I bet you can’t name me 5 reasons why you would vote for him again!
Ah, a challenge, I thought, and from someone who described themselves as a “patriot”, one who, in their profile, professed their love for America and hatred for “socialism”. I knew the type, so I thought, okay, let me respond to this guy and hit the “reply” button, not realizing that my response also went to the celebrity, but also his/her four million followers.
My “tweet”: I’ll give you one: Romney represents everything that disgusts me about being an American and a human being.
Naturally, not only did this celebrity’s followers see this, but this Twitter user had “retweeted” my response to all his followers, and thus, the onslaught began. There were literally hundreds of them and I deleted most of them (and blocked the users) but I will focus on the more memorable that I wrote down for the purposes of this article:
Twitter user 2: What disgusts you? Family values? Capitalism? You’re nothing but a COMMUNIST!
Twitter user 3: It’s people like you who want to destroy this country and western civilization!
Twitter user 4: Go vote for Obama the socialist muslim terrorist. Go back to Al Qaeda!
Twitter user 5: Mitt Romney will thank you when you leave the country after election day!
Twitter user 6: You’re a liberal – and you’re an idiot.
Twitter user 7: If what Romney represents “disgusts you” then move to Cuba!
I realized at this point that the Celebrity had been getting all my replies, that he/she had been equally bombarded. The next one was directed at the Celebrity:
Twitter user 8: Why don’t you give your money away to those who need it? Why argue about getting
This one, I responded to directly: What makes you so sure that (he/she) doesn’t? What makes you think (he/she) “owes” you an explanation about anything?
And they kept coming:
Twitter user 9: What Romney reps “disgusts” you? You hate the military, family values & Capitalism. Liberal idiot!
And my favorite:
Twitter user 10: You support the terrorists, you foreign loving n***** lover!
This, my friends, are your fellow Americans. A scary thought.
After about three days of this it finally subsided – most probably because I blocked nearly all of them. I responded to some – in a sarcastic way, of course – then immediately blocked them so the inane discussion wouldn’t continue. The one thing I feel bad about, more than anything else, was subjecting The Celebrity to all this as well.
I wanted to contact The Celebrity to apologize for the onslaught caused by my knee jerk response (and not taking his/her name off the reply) but there was no option for a direct message and doing so publicly wasn’t a good idea. It would have only kept the nut train going. However, I am under no illusions that The Celebrity was even thinking about me or my initial tweet or the reply to the first moron. He/She probably just ignored them, as I’m sure celebrities of his/her stature are used to this sort of thing by now, especially ones who are politically active.
There is a lesson to be learned here: be mindful that if you’re going to respond to idiots and wing nuts, be sure to watch where else the reply is going. The other lesson I learned from this highly amusing experience is that there are a hell of a lot of seriously disturbed people out there, most of them sitting on the internet and trolling, looking for people to argue with, to lash out at, direct their anger and hatred towards. Still, we all have a right to our own opinions, no matter how insane it may be at times.
The wall between citizen and celebrity has become paper thin and sometimes, you may just be able to kick a hole through it – even when you’re not intending to.
Tags: anger, Celebrities, extremism, Facebook, free speech, internet, Politics, racism, social media, Tweeting, Twitter