I actually have, at a stretch, 30 followers on Twitter (think wallflower in the corner of the school dance versus popular high school cheerleader) so no, not a single RT from @jtimberlake (by the way, when did having 'followers' evolve from 'you lead a cult' to 'social media leader cool'...right?). Here's the thing...JT 'could' RT me. With hard work, devotion and the right timing of my tweets via TweetDeck, it could actually happen. And why stop at JT, I could stretch to the top of the Twitter pile which includes Justin Bieber (41 million followers); Lady Gaga (39 million); Katy Perry (39 million); Rihanna (30 million). To a new generation of fans, it's no longer about an autograph but instead a sizzling hot retweet, mention or, gasp, DM.
In general, we are all in a dialogue with celebrities in a way that we could never have imagined two, five, 25 years ago. When I was 14 the closest I could get to my idols Duran Duran was a fuzzy MTV video on a small television with a hope and a Save A Prayer. But now the @SimonJCLeBON of my youth who stood so expertly on the tip of that yacht and was running through jungles now tells me via Twitter that he goes to barbecues, gets tired, enjoyed seeing the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park and watches Eurovision.
Now I'm not suggesting we rob celebrities of a much deserved dose of normalcy, but is it a good thing or bad that social media has brought us so 'close'? Are we now, more than ever, like stalkers and motivated toward inane celebrity worship or has it reinforced the notion that celebrities are just 'like us' and anyone can be a success and 'make it' in the Twittersphere? If you look at those in the ranks of the most-followed (sources are quite readily available, I'm using Twitaholic) the top 1,000 list is speckled with 'celebrities' (yes, wow, upwards of 1,000 people conventionally considered 'celebrity' tweeting). 'Normal' people start to crowd in around the 1K mark (if you consider bloggers like, Dooce's Heather Armstrong 'normal').
The point is that there has been a meeting point somewhere between "celeb X is accessible' and 'Jo Schmo is interesting and should be followed' (online that is...I'm not advocating for anything physical) Average people are getting more notorious and celebrities seemingly more banal and an arm's length away from the Wholefood's checkout. This isn't all that new, anyone watching Jersey Shore, TOWIE or the Real Housewives of X, Y, Z City gets that. But there is a meeting point that, for better or worse, we are learning to sit comfortably between.
The challenge has been when the economics come in...from transparency in tweeting for money to whether or not celebrity accessibility affects things like marketability at the cinema. Does familiarity - of the social media variety - breed contempt? Does it make celebrities more appealing or less? And is the average person more likely to become a breakout star or just more desperate and delusional about what it means to be famous?
Well, happy to offer myself up as a test...watch this space, people. Watch this space.
Follow Shannon Edwards on Twitter: www.twitter.com/crystalline_uk