Machinations of a Megalomaniac

“When it is more important to be seen than to be talented, it is hardly surprising that the less gifted among us are willing to fart our way into the spotlight” Lakshmi Chaudhry, quoted in The Nation, remarks with contempt. I cannot help but receive such damning indictment without coagulating; in agreement, and that very blood spools as a member of the lost generation I’ve spawned within – ashamed, demanding subscription and unstoppable.

Whilst Say Everything – a heart-wrenching amalgamation of expert opinion/observation and pathological admittance published in 2007, and yet somehow pre-apocalyptic without exacerbation – studies the social shift which new wave media sweeps once-privatized masses into befuddled flux, it yearns for constructive criticism – not reconciliation – in addressing the irreversible tide of exposure. In meeting garish Kitty Ostapowicz it’s not an interview to find directions for the pathway to faithless notoriety, but a reception to assess self-absorbed psyche. When Nussbaum exemplifies the likes of Ostapowicz, she’s articulating a flag-bearer for the millennial era: virtual perpetuations to exhibit nothingness as an auction-able asset, an omnipresence to online lifestyles. And anybody can do it; that’s the scary part.

There’s a claim for self-publicity as a functioning moral mechanism to inspire those in deficit to reach out of the proverbial black hole and claw their way to the surface. Everybody deserves a chance at success. Clay Shirky mentions old stoic views vs brash unapologetic youth culture with a tinge of suppressed jealousy – and isn’t that half the problem? Morally, we are questionable. Retaining envy for gateway notoriety because it’s easily accessible feeds the dearth of talent more so, regardless of whether it’s agreed upon whether the gateway, itself, is commendable. Promoting the lifestyles of Ostapowicz and company – even by small blog publishings like my own, regrettably – is advertisement. The notion of ‘any publicity is good publicity’ harkens truth, as more eyes clinch the product. Analysts can claim that current generation heat-seekers lack intelligence, but social intelligence has been capitalized and ravaged as a successful means. The definition of privacy has changed; social media users are, by and large, safe and sound in their photo-and-personal-information-filled existences. To be private is to hide something.

And maybe that’s half the problem. It certainly is for me. I can understand the usefulness in networking – particularly as an Englishman not quite ready to consider America home, yet – but remitting a relationship status or resisting weekend photo uploads feels like I’m conspiring against the cultural homogeneity of ‘expression’. I’m strong-willed; I wouldn’t cave in to peer pressure, but even those boundaries may be tested if I felt like I could gain something genuinely useful (perhaps research-based information on an impending employer, etc) in subscribing to social media platforms. Once upon a time, leading a fanbase was the machinations of a megalomaniac. Now, it’s comparatively tame – in fact, as Danah Boyd claims, it’s “realistic”. When Twitter confirms that we have 500 “followers” we do not bat an eyelid at zany cult prophecy, which is oracle or zealot language.

“Periscope” appears set to become the latest fad. The fact that all I know is it’s social-based and completely inessential is cathartic enough.

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