To step back for a moment, I want to make sure I don't sound as if I am demonizing the use of social networks to learn more about people - that's what they're for - and you can certainly have relationships with people online. I've made awesome friends online and I know several people who have successful romantic relationships initiated online. But these sort of interactions differ from Facebook stalking and there is also a certain kind of complexity that can be reached when interactions are kept to scanning a profile or reading tweets but never actually interacting with the individual (whether virtually or in person) and this is most easily expressed in that complicated relationship with celebs that I so frequently turn back to. Learning about celebs online but directly interacting with them creates a strange state of being, of knowing a great deal about them and yet not much at all. We feel intimately connected with them without ever having had a conversation - whether in person or virtual - with them. It a strange place to be in, a place when reflected upon produces such thoughts such as, "Well shit, I know your middle name, your favorite music, and your entire IMDb profile, but I actually know nothing about you as a person." It's often wondered why people want responses to fanmail, tweets, or other such interactions from celebrities, and sometimes the answer is given that they want to be recognized and noticed as being number one fans. But I think it's more than this. I think it's more along the lines of providing evidence of communication, of being able to talk to a celebrity on their Twitter as one might a friend, of having support for that strange sense of knowing them and having it validated.
The short story is that humans are very weird, complex social creatures. The long story is that we do lots of good and bad things in our communication and, perhaps, it's to avoid the staggering existential question of whether we can really know another person at all. Or whether we can truly know ourselves. And whether our boundaries of public and private really hold up with the internet at all.
But hey! Let's dodge that existential crisis with a reminder that social media can actually be a really, really great, powerful thing, as long as we keep in mind how we're using it. Are we going to continue to Facebook stalk to some degree? Yes. Are we going to continue to feel personal bonds with people we hardly know? Totally. Are we going to continue to be nosy, inquisitive creatures and all humany-wumany? You betcha. We're humans and it's beautiful and strange and complicated. We just have to be aware of what we're posting and not be creepy about what other people are posting. But first, lemme take a selfie:
Yes, this song will get stuck in your head. And yes, you will hate me for it. But this is a great representation of how internet culture can be simultaneously awesome and awful. You're welcomes :)