For all that’s said about the ease which comes from using the internet, the celebrities who came before the millennials can think of many examples where the opposite was true. In the old days, they had a postal address where fan mail could be sent but there was no guarantee that it would be promptly read. Nowadays, people expect instant gratification when a celeb has a social media account. On MySpace, this was wishful thinking unless it was someone of a lower stature. Ditto for Facebook, but the more intimate nature of Twitter and Instagram nullifies that. MySpace and Facebook benefited from people not being able to distinguish the fans from the friends whereas Twitter and Instagram allows the wrong people to peep into the celeb’s potentially personal connections. This is why it isn’t really self-aggrandizing if a celeb prefers to follow no-one unless they want to promote brands or bands.
This represents a quandary of sorts – if a celebrity posts pictures of themselves with fellow celebrity friends (from the same medium or not) then rivals or enemies of one celebrity will see the other celeb as a threat, but if the celebrity only posts photos of non-celebs then they are potentially missing out on some crossover appeal in terms of gaining fans or exposure from the industry’s power players. This leads to another curate’s egg: a celebrity is allowed to post photos of their friends without their faces being blurred, but many ordinary people are hesitant to do the same on dating sites. Regardless of which category that you belong to, there is another dilemma – if a celebrity posts photos of themselves then they look like loners, or on-lookers will speculate that the person who took the photo is a partner (thus taking away their romantic appeal) or their manager (thus taking away their relatability). People often make the mistake of assuming that a celebrity hasn’t logged into their account for a long time because of the date of their last post but there are giveaways in the form of things they’ve recently liked or people who they’ve recently started following.
Social media has essentially made magazines redundant, which is an unfortunate reality for the younger generation of celebs coming in because if a photo was in bad taste then it would have been easy to blame it on the photographer or the publicity department for which ever field of work that they affiliate themselves with (e.g. record sales or film promo). With self-styling comes great responsibility. Before you could pin tweets and archive Insta stories, celebs needed to have official websites to relay important messages. In the early days of the net, there were celebs who relished having blogs on LiveJournal or Blogger because it was like having their own magazine or newspaper column (especially if they felt misquoted or misunderstood about something). These days, most of the celebs find having a blog to be an extraneous endeavour. Social media is such an intimate venture that magazines and newspapers have become as antiquated as books.
Unlike Twitter, Instagram guarantees a certain level of anonymity for celebrities because they can post a comment on someone’s post and it won’t get any attention if it’s buried under other comments. With so many people posting on an image, you have to constantly activate the scroll button until you run out of patience. On Twitter, you can easily find people’s tweets because everything is locatable due to the site’s search engine. Conversely, Twitter allows people to protect their tweets but doing so puts them under a certain level of scrutiny (especially if they have controversial jokes or opinions which can still be screenshot and shared by other means). On Instagram, you can privatize your account so that you’re not followed by spambots but the best way to be private is to have a second account that the regular person can’t find because you’re using a variation of your name or a different name altogether that defies the average imagination. This reminds me of Facebook where many celebrities use aliases for their private accounts to avoid their inboxes being flooded by fans, acquaintances and opportunists.
One method that corporations use is to create so many fake accounts on Facebook that people give up on trying to find their favourite celeb. It seems unthinkable until you consider the danger that celebs are often subjected to. On MySpace, this tactic was less of a thing but not completely unimaginable. The irony is that the only celebs who can get away with having their real names on their social media accounts are adult entertainers. Celebs are often encouraged to avoid being photographed at the same public establishment more than once because then that will be identified as their regular hang-out spot. Such paranoia will seem peculiar until you realize that the entertainment industry has long been a haven for the underworld. Besides crooks wanting to muscle in on the income, there is the issue of rapists, thieves, kidnappers and assassins sent to eliminate the competition. Authors don’t have to fear this. The conundrum of joining social media would be made easier if celebs wore masks like Slipknot but even that band would soon become recognizable without the masks.
Finally, there are two types of celebrities who share a commonality: those who leave social media and those who never had an intention of being on there. The turn-off for both is that corporations will make crucial decisions based on who has the most followers along with who has the most of the latest likes or even who has the most mutual followers since great minds think alike. Social media is essentially about showcasing what you like and don’t like, so people will use that to either curry your favour or annoy you online or off. Ultimately, celebs of a particularly high status will find their inboxes being flooded (if only there was a way to receive messages from only verified accounts). On Instagram, celebs are presented with an ultimatum: don’t restrict your comments but end up being used by people trying to get the attention of others, or do restrict your comments but people can easily spam your followers. When it all comes down to it, you’re also receiving remarks from haters or people who are trying to throw you off your game like a sports fan who is trying to psych out an athlete.