Once, meeting a celebrity involved camping out in Hollywood for just a glimpse of his face. Now, through the power of social media, anyone can become a celebrity overnight.
The incredible, defining aspect of social media is that it has the capability to reach an immense audience from across the globe instantaneously. Whether it be through a share, retweet, reblog, or even a screenshot to a friend, a simple picture or text can be the latest Internet trend by the next morning. Social media has thus circulated posts so that anyone, regardless of current status, has the potential to be the next Internet celebrity.
Take Daniel Lara and his friend Josh, a freshman and a sophomore from Riverside Polytechnic High School, California who are responsible for the #damndaniel trend. On Feb. 15, through a 30-second video on Twitter of Josh complimenting his friend’s outfits, they ascended from average high-school students to a viral Internet trend in less than 24 hours. Another example involves Brandon Moore, the source of the “what are those” video that caused footwear to become dramatically more noticed. These and many other seemingly ordinary people have all somehow influenced today’s fast-paced pop culture.
“Honestly, I don’t know where the #damndaniel trend even came from. One day I went to school, and suddenly everyone was talking about white Vans and some video on Twitter. I’ve never seen a meme trend that quickly,” said Amy Kim, a junior at Valencia High School in Valencia, California.
Meme culture, although a potential ticket for anyone to claim their 15 minutes of fame, also holds negative repercussions and potential consequences. The openness of social media not only offers a chance for instant fame, but also enables people to stalk users. In fact, avid fans have already tracked down Daniel’s personal Twitter account and his high school, making him and his friend vulnerable to anyone persistent enough to track them down in person.
The immediate gratification of social media also poses risks to physical safety. People eager for Internet fame and a chance at recognition have uploaded videos of themselves performing life-threatening stunts such as the short-lived “pass-out challenge” in which people deliberately hyperventilate in order to make themselves faint. The serendipitous rise to fame that some people have encountered have caused others to desperately pursue the same opportunity, potentially harming themselves and others.
“Some people will do anything to become famous on social media,” said Alice Kim, a junior at Valencia High School. “I’ve seen people pull the craziest, riskiest stunts on Vine or upload the weirdest things. And for what? A week of online fame?”
With the rise in Internet celebrities and viral memes, anyone has the potential to be watched by society. The rise and fall of these instant stars are a sobering reminder to always carefully consider online activity. Internet fame happens accidentally, and fame at the expense of one’s dignity, health, or even life may leave lasting regrets.