In March of this year for the first time Facebook surpassed Google as the most visited website. Facebook has more than 400 million active users, there are more than 60 million status updates daily, and more than 50% of active users log on in any given day. The other popular social media sites don’t seem to be losing steam either.
I’ve read and heard many speculations about why social media has grown so furiously. It seems that research is beginning to show support for the value these sites provide for marketing and promotion. They can also certainly make it easier to connect with friends, colleagues, and loved ones. For me, however, it seems that one of the most significant things that might be fueling the ever-growing flames of social media is our social and cultural attraction to and fixation on celebrity.
Our fascination as a culture with all things celebrity and view of celebrity as the pinnacle of success and means to all desirable ends has reached unbelievable intensity. It has virtually saturated our collective psyche. Could it be that social media provides opportunity and access for anyone and everyone to feel just a little bit famous?
It may not be quite as satisfying as the glory of the “15-minutes of fame” of yesteryear, but it can certainly be a very steady and easily accessible fix of perhaps a second or two. Maybe the knowledge that more and more people are not only interested in knowing something about you or that they might be consuming something that you project into cyberspace creates similar thoughts and feelings to what celebrities experience when contemplating their fans and the public. I wonder what percentage of Twitter followers and Facebook friends have any kind of real concern, connection, or relationship at all. My suspicion is that actual relationship is the exception rather than the rule.
If you use social networking sites, spend a little time thinking about what truly motivates you do so. How much time are you spending on those sites and, most importantly, what is the return on the investment of time? Interesting questions to ponder for sure…