How Did the Modern Social Media Platform Provide the Basis of Fame for People to Exploit or to Consume?
The modern technological advancement impacted a great number of aspects of the human lives. Starting from the early days of history progress allowed people to survive gradually introducing other aspects such as culture and society. As a result, the present day life drastically differs from the one of our predecessors with internet communications being one of the most significant factors. The increase of the use of the Internet led to the fact that people share and access information of different complexity and volume around the globe in a single click. At the same time, there is another factor that affected their lives mainly in the sphere of communication and social construction, which is a social media. This paper analyzes modern social media with the aim of revealing the principles human of interaction and the emergence of fame on its basis. The primary focus of the research is the question, “How did the modern social media platform provide the basis of fame for people to exploit or to consume?” The research explores the mentioned aspects taking into account the principle of emergence of fame in social networks and the phenomenon of selfie that is closely associated with social networks. It suggests that the modern social media has a significant accent on such aspects as self-identity and self-promotion, which positively or negatively shapes the social identity and social construction of their users. This research is useful for all specialists, who analyze different aspects of social media and its role is social construction, as it allows enhancing their expertise in this subject.
Social Media as a New Form of Fame Machine
Social Media and Fame
The emergence of the social media is associated with numerous changes affecting different aspects of human lives because of their unique feature of allowing people connecting with each other disregarding the physical distance between them. Scholars claim that the Internet-based social media has made it possible for one person to communicate with hundreds or even thousands of other people that changed the social life and the marketplace. Among them is a completely different public that represents regular citizens, governmental and non-governmental organizations, telecommunication companies, software developers, governments and other. As a consequence, the owners of the accounts on the websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other are intrigued by a perspective of reaching other individuals. Besides, the principle of posting on these websites is simple, which results in the disproportion of the amount of efforts for taking and posting a selfie and the potential benefits such as multiple sharing. In this respect, the process of reposting may be characterized as the measured way to success, which is mainly fame. The users of the social media communicate directly and need no intermediaries such as communication companies, which is why the principle of becoming famous drastically changes. A person needs no communication company to publish one’s video or photo. Instead, this can be done directly, which leads to the evolvement of social media self-promotion by means of one’s photographs or video recordings. Therefore, experts claim that “social media is a hybrid element of the promotion mix”, which has a fame-relevant function. Among the features that allow fame emerging from social media use are the social networks’ functions to “share”, “like” and “follow”. As a consequence, some users of the social media become famous even without being aware of it. A vivid example of this is “Alex From Target”, a teenager working at one of the supermarkets, who was photographed by someone and that person posted his photo on Twitter. The photo got so many shares by multiple users that they found his Twitter account, and Alex got over 300,000 followers on Twitter in under twenty-four hours. As a result, a story of an ordinary person, who was not a singer or an artist and had not been aspiring for fame, was presented by CNN making him even more famous. Therefore, social media have completely changed the pattern that makes people famous. However, along with the cases similar to Alex From Target’s there is a more significant scope of people that post selfies in order to promote themselves. One of the most famous examples of this is Kim Kardashian, who, despite being an actress, a model, a reality television personality and a singer, increased her social network presence that dramatically multiplied her fame.
Kim Kardashian and Her Twitter Account
Kim Kardashian West is one of the modern celebrities that do not need a presentation because of being famous with numerous activities and achievements but her latest booming popularity resulted mostly from social network activity. Thus, before the boost of her fame by social networks, she has been known as a TV star, entrepreneur, fashion designer and author. For example, some people knew her because of New-York Times best-seller “Kardashian Konfidential”, others were interested in her designer stores whereas movie-goers recognized her as an actress and a reality television star. One presumes that often different aspects of her social recognition and fame overlapped multiplying Kardashian’s popularity and letting her fame access different populations. However, the increase of her social network activity increased her popularity even more and attracted the attention of not only her fans but different researchers focused on social sciences.
Kim Kardashian has a personal website as well as accounts in different networks such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, which have an enormous number of followers. For instance, her website gets about six million page views a month, which can be characterized as a dramatic fame. Despite claims that Kim Kardashian says that she is not a big fan of talking about herself her social and social media activity states the opposite. Thus, her social network accounts have an army of several million followers and readers. For instance, the analysis of Kardashian’s Twitter account reveals 47,4 million readers, which is a tremendous attention to this personality. The content of her Twitter account is mainly advertising posts engaging her and endorsed products, family photos and selfies. Several times, her account was engaged in wide social discussions criticizing different aspects of her published life. For example, one of the discussions was the critique caused by the overuse of photoshop edition on a published photo. As critics claim, it was her worst photo edition as she “failed shaving inches of her waist to losing her arm” as the arm was occasionally deleted on the photograph. Other discussions involve similar topics such as editing the photos of her children and so on, which constantly keep her popularity at the desired level. A more recent discussion is a scandal involving Kardashian’s accusation of Taylor Swift of using the lyric of one of the songs of her husband, a rap musician Kanye West. Such posts and scandals based on the usage of Twitter’s public messaging guarantee that her popularity constantly remains at a similar level or even increases. Nevertheless, one cannot deny the fact that it were selfies of Kim Kardashian that made her popular in social networks as much as any beautiful-looking celebrity. Along with this, different business companies recognized that it is beneficial to use the images of popular people in social media for promotion of their products. As a result, Kim Kardashian is used by some of them as one of the most popular and successful endorsers. This strategy demonstrates that the efficacy of modern advertising is improved by means of using a parasocial advertising method that is available because of social networks and their functions. Moreover, the phenomenon of the booming popularity of the celebrity at social networks attracted the attention of social scientists that even introduced a new term, the Kardashian index.
The Kardashian Index
Despite being referred to Kim Kardashian, the Kardashian index (the K-index) is not connected with the personality of a celebrity, but contrasts the phenomenon of a scientific fame to the actual impact of a scientist on one’s domain of research. The reason for introducing this index was an idea of reviewing the popularity of the scientific personalities on Twitter. Scholars define the K-index as “the number of followers a scientist has on the social media platform Twitter relative to their academic citation count”. One of the causes for this is the discussion of the worth of the scientists’ engagement of social media as a means of communication. In this sense, scholars define the existence of the two problems among which the first one is the idea of the usage of the social media in order to reach co-researchers. Another issue is the attempts of promoting significant scientific discoveries and overall engagement of the social masses in science. In this respect, a reference to Kardashian may be understood as a synonym of fame because scientists require much more efforts in order to be as popular a Kim Kardashian in their spheres of research. Along with it, the scholar that introduced the term, Neil Hall, used it in mostly negative meaning. Thus, he states that “her celebrity buys success, which buys greater celebrity …”, which is why she belongs to people “who are famous for being famous”. Consequently, the K-index is used to calculate the correlation between the scientist’s real impact on science and the media popularity that may not be relevant. The scientist uses a real-life example in order to explain the meaning of the term in science referencing to the increased attention of media to the conflict in Syria and its actual efficacy in solving the conflict. As a result, he argues that “Social media make it very easy for people to build a seemingly impressive persona by essentially “shouting louder” than others”, which is an irrelevant approach for a scientist. Along with it, the K-index allows revealing individuals that receive the underestimated level of attention. This is revealed by means of exposing that the number of the scientist’s Twitter followers is less than references to his or her work in scientific literature. Some researchers go further and develop this approach by introducing a modified K-index. This index is used for measuring a discrepancy between a scientist’s publication record and social media by comparing a number of a “of numbers of citations on Google Scholar and Twitter followers”.
Despite some people argue that this approach is irrelevant to science, it demonstrates that social media has reached any part of human activity starting form common people to celebrities, businesses and science. This effect has become possible because the representatives of all these spheres realized that social media may be used for self-promotion.
Self Promotion and Selfie
Selfie is a relatively new word that dramatically fast entered a modern langue as a phenomenon associated with photographing oneself and posting the photograph at any social media website. Scholars approve that we live in the age of selfie that is possible to capture, post and immediately get involved into a visual social interaction. Historically, the idea of depicting oneself dates to centuries ago, when the artists created self-portraits holding a mirror. For example, Parmigianino’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” dates back to the beginning of the 1500s, which is why some scholars consider it the first selfie ever made. However, at that time, the artists and, later, photographers had to make considerable preparations for creating such self-portrait, which also took significant time to create in a physical space. In contrast, modern selfie-posts are done in a split second and with the same speed they are shared with the world because of digital technologies. Similarly, experts argue that selfies are more casual, made mostly by amateurs of photography in different settings, which is why they form a separate genre of photography. Technically, it presents a portrait of a person, but do not require any skill of photography or setting creation because a person just directs the camera of one’s smart phone to oneself and makes a photo. Sometimes, selfies are captured in front of the mirror in order to avoid presence of the hand of the person because it holds the phone. Also, scholars admit that the predominant part of selfies are poorly made with wrong angles, improper setting, mugging, “duckface” (pouty lips) and so on. However, it is still a self-portrait with the only and critical difference that it is posted in the social media for others to see. Therefore, it raised the interest of the researchers of the reasons for and motivations behind such behavior.
Motivations behind Selfie
The number of selfies created and shared online daily by all social network users is hard to estimate, which leads to questioning for reasons that lead masses of people to such actions. Among them, some researchers name the need for self-expression manifested through an online presence of a person because of selfie posting. Moreover, it encourages people to share the most intimate and private moments of their life as well as engaging in a form of creative self-fashioning. This behavior is warning because typically people tended to conceal the details of their private lives strictly separating private aspects from public ones. Consequently, the motivation that caused the shift in cognition should be really strong and stronger that just copying the behavior of the others. Investigating this aspect, some scholars revealed the roots of this behavior in narcissism. The results of the research by Lee and Sung involving 315 Korean subjects revealed a positive correlation between selfie-related social network behaviors and the presence of narcissism. This evidence supports the idea that people, who actively post selfies, want others to observe and admire them. Another study of the issue was focused on Facebook posting behavior analyzing the content published by the users and the frequency of posting. It revealed that extraverts more frequently update about their social activity whereas narcissistic motivations are closely connected to the frequency of posts about daily achievements, diet and exercising. Similarly, researchers from Poland revealed a positive correlation between narcissism and selfie posting frequency, but it was stronger in men than women. Thus, women have weaker narcissistic motivations, but are characterized by more frequent selfie posting. At the same time, some people use Twitter and Facebook posts for harming others by creating a cyber-mob, which is an organized attack by the followers of someone’s account. Among these cases one can name a tweeted attack on one of the female gamer’s accounts, Quinn after the posting of her leaked naked pictures. Therefore, such aspect as fame because of the social media usage may be abused in order to lead masses of people towards illegal actions attacking other individuals. Nevertheless, the predominant part of social media usage is focused on promotion.
Fame and Self Promotion Connection
The existence of social media and its overuse by some individuals for promotion themselves has changed the whole idea of a celebrity. For instance, the classical image of a celebrity is based on some type of public activity that puts an individual in front of a public and attracts attention. Along with it, the activity of this person has been playing the most critical part because singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument, or taking part in sports competitions appeal to public. In contrast, people that become famous because of their photographs are ordinary citizens without the incidence of such activity. Just as in the case with “Alex From Target”, they may be a teenager that works at the shop or any other person disregarding race, gender, age, occupation and other. However, in contrast with “Alex From Target”, a narcissistic individual that posts selfies seeks social recognition and promotes oneself in this way. The most relevant support of this is the fact that business companies also noticed that it is possible to advertise a product via social networks. Thus, in order to make oneself famous, a modern person may not need any skills in arts, music or spend years of sports training, but posts selfies in different settings trying to represent oneself as more attractive. As a result, masses of people started blogging, vlogging and posting selfies in order to become famous, even without awareness what can this fame bring to them. Among them, some may aspire for money creating paid services or performing different actions on the prepaid and order basis and other. Therefore, social media started performing one more role along with communication, which is self promotion. However, the critics of this tendency claim that such people may feel broken and dissatisfied with their lives even when having lots of subscribers. One considers that the reason for it may be misguidance in family values and key priorities in life. Therefore, social media introduces a perspective of having positive or negative changes in people’s lives because of self-promotion and the actualization of narcissistic roots of the personality. However, the popularity achieved only because of social media self-promotion may lead to negative consequences affecting one’s social identity, which raises the need for different solutions in order to manage the issue.
Summarizing the presented information, the paper comes to a conclusion that the modern social media brought drastic changes in the social life of millions of people. One of the main reasons for this is its ability for changing self-identity towards promoting oneself in order to supports individual narcissistic needs for admiration and recognition by the others. However, this possibility may be used in different aims and lead to different consequences. For example, when Kim Kardashian increased her social network activity and became popular, she did not harm her personality as she has already been famous. Instead, some scientists aspire for unjustified fame using social networks. Also, there is evidence that the social media lets numerous people a possibility of becoming famous simply by posting a selfie. As a result, selfies became a common type of photography frequently used by narcissistic individuals for self promotion. Therefore, modern social media provides the basis of people’s fame through self-promotion and actualization of narcissistic features of their personality. However, the improper use of this ability may damage one’s identity because of the misguidance directed towards cyberspace. As a result, there is a need for different solutions that allow people avoiding the exposed problems.