Fame on social media is the new American Dream. Are we doomed?

Fame on social media is the new American Dream. Are we doomed?

In 2007, you became old.

That was the year a hair dresser named Kim Kardashian flounced and flaunted her impressive bosom and derriere for all the world to behold, holding forth for forty-one minutes of made-for-video programming viewed to this day on the Pornhub web site, still earning her and third rate R&B singer Ray J, her partner on the infamous sex tape, $340,000 a year.

As for Ms Kardashian, now world renowned and famous for her social media candidness, she has nearly 224 million followers across Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, and boasts a net worth of $240,000,000.

In 2020 you are a dinosaur.

And if you haven’t heard about TikTok and WhatsApp, WeChat, QZone and Tumblr you are a fossil. Chances are, considering the demographic of this post, you never heard of Michael Weist. Or Krill Bichutsky, aka “The Slut Whisperer,” or Tana Mongeau, or twins Julian and Jovani Jara, or Liza Kasky or Josh Ostrovsky aka “The Fat Jew.” How about YouTube-stars Bryce Hall and Mikey Barone? Not familiar with these mostly teen-agers? Approximately six, seven million kids in middle school and high school log on to watch them every day displaying such “talents” as lip syncing Justin Bieber and pouring champagne on each other.

How about 17 year old Loren Gray Beech known professionally as Loren Gray, a social media personality from Pottstown, Pennsylvania with more than 36 million TikTok followers, over 18 Million Instagram followers, and 3.6 million YouTube subscribers as of August 2019. Want more: 17 year old’s’ Jacob Sartorius (20.7 million) and Baby Ariel (29.8 million) and a Pomeranian dog named JiffPom (19.4 million).

Facebook has 400 million users visiting the site every day, accounting for an estimated 8 billion views a day. More than 400 million Snapchat stories are posted every 24 hours. Contrast these staggering numbers with the circulations of the Chicago Tribune, NY Times and Washington Post, all averaging under 500,000 readers daily.

Clearly, the soul of America’s youth has been squashed by a silicone-puffed gluteal augmented butt! Still don’t think a generation is in danger of losing its soul. Consider the most retweeted tweet of all time originated with a Japanese billionaire who offered almost a million dollars in a lottery for randomly selected followers. His tweet was shared almost 5 million times, overtaking a plea to gain enough retweets to persuade fast food chain Wendy’s to award a year’s worth of free chicken nuggets.

Compare that “socially significant” effort with the youthful cry from the sixties, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” That was our generation’s social rebellion. It rallied a struggle by students over the right to engage in political speech on campus; it meant something important, catalyzing broader political activism against the Vietnam War.

Today, social-media fame relies on technological manipulation and has nothing to do with traditional artistic talent. Yes, a generation of kids squealed and swooned over Frank Sinatra and the Beetles, but hey, at least they could sing! Today’s digital “celebrities” are narcissistic, materialistic and virtual, lacking any genuine human connection.

My question, “Are we doomed?” springs from the terrifying possibility that the virtual lives inhabited by our current generation of teens has become more “real” than their real lives!

I am not without hope. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year old clarion voice for climate change initiative is on the cover of Time Magazine. I can list this group of teenagers you will not know - Emma González, Alex Wind, Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin and fellow organizer David Hogg – as counterpoint to the names above. They are the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida leading the fight for gun control.

Let’s take inspiration from them and rally our generation of old timers to reassert our presence within the family structure. Let’s stop making jokes about calling our third grade grandkids to teach us how to send a text. We are smarter than that. Let’s learn about the social media apps that promote entitlement rather than empathy; greed ahead of gratitude. Instead of tsk tsk and complaints about “kids today,” be the mentor and example of character that you were taught as a kid from yesteryear.

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