Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Putting us in our place.

The "social media" thing has been quite interesting.  As a migrant from being "pen pals" and actually speaking on the phone to someone, I have watched this revolution in personal communications and marvelled at the relationship between being personal and impersonal simultaneously.

The most interesting (debatable) part of it is the relationship that us commoners have with the so-called celebrities.  In the Twitter language, we are "followers."  On Facebook we are "friends."  I think that's what separates Twitter from Facebook.  On Twitter you are either followed or a follower.  On Facebook, there is a friend relationship that at least places the participants on a somewhat equal footing - even though one or the other might know it isn't so.

Take, for instance, a recent Tweet (a strange sequence, to be sure) from my "friend" Paula Creamer, in which she discloses her "Christmas present to myself" in Twitpic form (right).  It's a Porsche, of some sort.  To most of us, saying that we had given ourselves a Christmas present, we might be referring to a high-end kitchen appliance or a musical instrument.  To those on the "followed" end of the Twitter landscape, a Christmas present to themselves is a $50,000 automobile.  To most of their followers, that represents a year's salary (before taxes).

Not that we begrudge them this "gift," but the question it raises is the difference between the haves and the have-not's.  We have always known there is a difference, but now that we have this social media, it is on display for us to acknowledge.  The "Politeness Man" among us would say, "Hey, good for you!" but the regular person that is buried deeper would say, "What the fuck?  This is what you do with your money?"  Well, of course it is.  If you earned $17 million a year, you wouldn't spend it on a Ford Festiva.

So, I wondered (quietly to myself) is it better or worse that we know that we are so separated from them?  I suppose we've always known that movie stars, musicians and celebrities live a different lifestyle than the rest of us.  What we didn't have was graphic evidence and the immediacy of the Internet to show us exactly how much different they are from us.

After all, would you rather not know about Tim Tebow's religious convictions or would you just as soon watch him as quarterback of the Denver Broncos?  Recent news would say you'd rather not know all the extraneous junk.

I suppose there are some of Paula's followers who would look at this photo and not think twice about it.  I'm the type of person who looks around at those in line behind me and wonders, "What do they think?" and holds the door for people behind me because I don't want a stranger to question my ethics.  It doesn't make me better, it just gives me what we used to call on the softball field "rabbit ears."

I'm the type who thinks twice about everything.

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