Growing up, most people, youths, in particular, dreamt of some ways by which they could make fame and fortune. While football appeared to be the surest way to probably have your dreams come true; it required that one possessed outstanding football skills. And even with skills to rival those possessed by some legendary names in the game, there still weren’t any guarantees that you would make it in sports, especially if you happen to be from some of the developing countries in Africa and Asia.
The entertainment industry was another avenue through which young people attempted to actualize their dreams of fame and fortune. Unfortunately, while the movie industry was still at the nascent stage in most of these countries, the music industry on the other hand was even more eclectic than both the sports and movie avenues.
The movie industry, while accommodating in letting almost anybody and everybody with little or no acting experience the opportunity to act; it, however, did not promise anything in terms of fame or fortune. There were veterans of the industry who though may have garnered some measure of fame, did not however have the fortune that they hoped for.
Beyond all of these was the fact that both the music and film industry seemed to (as an unspoken rule), only acknowledge the place of the matured and experienced in their respective industries.
Things have, however, appear to change dramatically with the advent of social media. Fame and, indeed, fortune now appear to come very quickly for almost any young person who has creative skills whether or not they have been formally trained in the areas of their creative interest by leveraging on the opportunities that abound via the social media platform.
Today, almost everyone is familiar with the term ‘Internet Celebrity’. The term refers to anyone who has through their activities on the internet or social media been able to expand their global reach and increase their visibility and fame through the internet.
These celebrities have been able to use various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and many others to achieve quite remarkable global followership. While some because of their presence through sports, entertainment, politics, or some other platforms to garner initial followership before taking to social media; many others have had to start from scratch, relatively unknown.
For instance, while Cristiano Ronaldo already had a global fan base that naturally migrated to social media to follow their idol; someone like ‘Nuseir Yassin’, a Palestinian-Israeli video blogger, was until as recently as 2016, relatively unknown to the world. But with his ‘Nas Daily’ video blogs in which he traveled through 64 countries in 1000 days, Nas amassed global internet followership of over 35 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
For most people, the use of the word ‘celebrity is most likely to still invoke the traditional concept of the movie, entertainment, or sports stars who have been carefully groomed by various profile managers, media handlers, etc. Regardless, in the traditional or legacy media industries of cinema, television, radio, music, and print; we continue to associate the idea of celebrity with achievement, talent, or position. But being a celebrity in the sense of having fame (and perhaps, fortune) is not always tied to these rational and tangible successes.
Since celebrities can be groomed by experts in the traditional media industry, logically speaking, any ordinary, everyday person can be groomed into celebrity status irrespective of whether they have exceptional achievements, talented skills, or prominent positions in society.
As media formats evolve and television genres diversified, ordinary people are today, increasingly attaining celebrity statuses through the opportunities that the internet and social media are presenting them with many achieving their dreams of fame and fortune. And the trend appears like it is going to continue as long as people – young and old - can come up with new ideas to enhance their visibility; there will always be the right platform to spurn the next internet/social media celebrity.
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May 25, 2021
by Eguaogie Eghosa