By Aubrey Schopinsky
If you’ve ever worked as a cashier in the retail business, I’m sure you are familiar with the speeches that you have to give each customer as they approach your register. I know I am, given my previous experience in retail. Customers, are typically irritated by the constant nagging and inquiring of us associates beseeching them to invest in our credit card, sign up for emails and donate to charities that we stand by (who can say no the cancer foundation? It’s practically inhumane). However, as my job as a cashier progressed, I noticed that the younger generations and those closest to my age were easily persuaded at the thought of a credit card, while the older generations balked at the fact that they had to give out their social security number.
This major difference between the two age groups has to do with the generational gap that we are currently facing. Our generation has moved away from the suspicion within the older one and is much more comfortable in giving out private information and personal facts about our lives. So, who fuels this push for deprivatization? Celebrities and social media. These two forces of entertainment control our lives and our everyday, natural actions – the things that we do without much thought. Just last week, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the company was thinking about getting rid of the default privacy settings on accounts of minors (ages 13-17). This deprivatization would allow them to publicly broadcast their personal information; their cell phone number, email, even school they attend and addresses of the places to which they go. For parents and older generations, this is a major issue; it leaves minors vulnerable to open attacks by cyber-predators and identity thieves. However, to our generation and the one below us, this is much less of an issue. As we continue to get older, we become smarter about the information we publish online, yet still maintaining that connection of personal information with the majority of our friends list. We have been educated on the importance of online privacy and most of us know more than our parents about all the social media sites.
Celebrities, through the use of such social media sites, have influenced our generation so much about the kinds of information we publish about ourselves, our actions and even our hopes and dreams. For example, many wannabe singers and actors have been discovered on social media, giving our generation hope for our pipe dreams and also encouraging us to share our talents (or lack thereof in many cases) publicly. This has connected us with millions of others around the world: people we will never meet, but those we still feel connected to virtually. As many know, Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube, unleashing the monster of “one less lonely girl”, which, as it turns out, there are a lot of.
Cody Simpson was also discovered on YouTube, and singer Colbie Caillet on her Myspace page. These social media sites have also encouraged stars to publicly announce pregnancies, marriages, drug problems and personal anecdotes that connect the masses in a way, giving people a sense of connection and friendship with a celebrity they will never meet. Which, although pathetic for those who honestly think Kylie Jenner would respond to your creepy stalker tweet, is a connection nonetheless.
These public announcements have allowed people to share their own stories publicly. Just last year, three of my Facebook friends published a status on the hardships in their lives, creating an awareness of those struggling closer to you than any celebrity, reaching out to help people they don’t know.
Celebrities and social media walk hand in hand; they not only influence each other, but our generation as a whole. They encourage us to publish personal information and share our experiences with the rest of the world. And if someone like Rebecca Black can be discovered on YouTube, why can’t we?