Thoreau said it while puttering along the shores of Walden Pond: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation with their song still left in them.” Now almost two centuries later we have the wonders of Facebook. Along with an entire galaxy of Steve Jobs & Steve Zuckerberg inspired social media. Would Thoreau consider this a satisfactory answer to our despair?
I’m not sure. Although he did comment on the excitement being promised by the new telegraph line between his Boston and Texas. He sniffed: “But does Boston have anything to say to Texas??”
With or without technology, it’s been said about our species that men need to be important, and women need to be loved…! If that conclusions is arguable, this one is not: Both men and women need to be noticed…! To live and die with our song still unsung is intolerable. And so it is we all itch for that 15-minutes-of-fame that seems to be all around us in these media-ized days, but just out of reach.
Notice how by-standers can’t resist gawking and waving whenever they see a television crew’s camera. Notice, as did the media guru Marshall McLuhan, how these same bystanders will usually watch the crew’s monitors rather than the event the crew is shooting. Notice how we can’t resist exploding our best smile whenever someone’s taking our picture. Notice how fans scream not only for autographs, but oh please just to touch for themselves the Great One they have come to see.
From kids climbing trees and yelling “Look at me!” to wannabes auditioning for American Idol, the Jerry Spring Show, Housewives Of; or simply queuing up to experience the privilege of being in the same television studio with…well, with whomever is going to be guesting this day.
[ Personal Note: I was the masked mystery guest for a Bob Newhart Roast in town. The nearby dinner guests became insanely curious about who I was. As one woman squealed, “You’re famous aren’t you! Will you sign my napkin?” For her, I simply had to be someone important whose signature she could take home as a prize. When the mask later came off, so did her squeal! ]
The international paparazzi — weaponed to the teeth with the latest communication technologies — have become an entirely new sub-set of the human species. A rapacious legion of blood-suckers who live on exploiting the fame of the famous. While at the very same time the famous exploit the power of the paparazzi. Meanwhile we — the non-famous — condemn this strange symbiosis while at the same time savoring every smarmy detail.
The writers of Genesis tried to explain this quixotic human appetite. Long before Freud or Shakespeare or even Paris Hilton, Genesis remarked on our desperately inquisitive need to know. Back then it was an apple. Right now it’s virtually anything or anyone the media has instructed us is important.
Enter stage right — Sarah Palin! History’s latest spear-carrier to become the play’s 15-minute star. Attention fellow spear-carriers: are you ready for YOUR cue??
Filed under: Uncategorized