Cyberspace fascinates me, particularly because our culture’s view of it is changing. When I was in high school, if I posted a picture of a classmate on my Web site, I’d often be asked to take it down or erase him or her from the picture. Now, of course, it’s common to post pictures online on Facebook, and people concerned about privacy are more likely to “un-tag” themselves from photos instead of asking others to delete them. It seems as if people are not as concerned about the consequences of posting personal information and photos on the Web.
I was reminded of this recently when I read about an English girl who was fired because she posted on Facebook that she was bored at work, even though she didn’t name the company employing her.
“…I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again…”
“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost
What does Robert Frost have to do with Joaquin Phoenix? Precious little at first glance. And yet he may have everything to do with explaining, in part, our obsession with celebrities.
Why do so many of us Americans find celebrities fascinating enough to read and talk about? I believe that when future anthropologists study today’s popular culture, they will find the obsession with the lives of actors, musicians, politicians, and other famous figures to be a complex phenomenon.