Being Famous in Online Social Networks
The concepts of fame and popularity have been continually changing through the times. However, as rightfully noticed by Knibbs (2013), “Even in the 1990s, the line between fame and obscurity was easy to find – this was before the advent of Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, when you were generally famous for being an actor or a sports star, a politician or a pundit” (para.1). Nowadays, new technological advances and the so-called “smartphone culture” (Knibbs, 2013, para.2) have merged this borderline and altered the notions of fame and popularity dramatically.
The ways of people gaining fame and popularity are totally different now. Furthermore, fast spread of online social networks and increasing number of their users made it appealing to the vast majority of people to attain popularity through gathering likes and counting reposts in their social media networks. Some recent researches have shown that even in children at the age of 10-12 the major aspirations center on the value of becoming famous online (Uhls & Greenfield, 2012). As social connections via Internet have become fundamental in the interpersonal communication of the 21st century, two major types of online social network popularity are distinguished: peer-perceived popularity (related to the status) and sociometric popularity (related to liking and post sharing).
The Audience Immersed in the Social Network Environment
One of the most widespread social networks worldwide is estimated to be Facebook. Back in 2008, it was reported that the number of active Facebook followers (those who surfed on the site during the last thirty days) constituted approximately 67 million users, with over half of them surfing the network every day for at average twenty minutes. A recent research of 1,715 college students, conducted by Park, Kee & Valenzuela (2009), had shown that the major purposes of the college students participating in various Facebook groups involved socializing, entertainment, seeking for information, and seeking for their self-status. The survey focused on examining Facebook groups’ users’ gratifications and on determining the relationship between the user’s gratifications and their civic and political participation offline.
The results of the survey revealed and distinguished high need of Facebook groups users for finding their self-status among the three other primary goals. Apart from communicating with other people, seeking for leisure and amusement, and seeking for information, great majority of the respondents stated that they also joined numerous Facebook groups trying to find and maintain their personal status, mainly in order to make themselves look cool and develop their interpersonal relationships and broaden their career perspectives. At present, thousands of millions of people all over the world have unlimited access to the Internet. Respectively, more and more individuals join multiple online social environments simultaneously, become “digital natives” (Bennett, Maton & Kervin, 2008, p.776), and their virtual activities constitute the greater part of their life, in general. A number of researchers insist on the development of individual social identities in the online social environment. Some even consider that a person is no one without a profile. For this …