Twitter Celebrity Worship: The Modern Day Idolatry

Bob Leggitt | Thursday, 30 January 2014 |

People tend to associate the most shocking behaviour on Twitter and other social networking sites with anger. They think of the trolling, the abuse. However, I find some of the most shocking behaviour to be founded not on anger, but on an obsequious idolatry in which celebrities or TV personalities are literally worshipped. This is harmless, though, right? If people want to award God-like status to personalities they’ve seen on television or in movies, that’s fair enough, isn’t it?…

"... If these influential facilitators put a good word in, via Direct Message, your favourite celeb might just follow you too!"

Well first of all, it’s not harmless for the celebrities. They’re relentlessly machine-gunned with desperate and often highly manipulative tweets from fans, whose main ambition in life is to be “noticed” by their idol(s). If they don’t get “noticed”, fans may accuse the celebrity of ruining their lives, and they may even threaten self-harm. That kind of emotional blackmail is distressing to, and unfair on anyone – no matter how rich and famous they are… “Notice me, or else…”

But what almost every single one of these hardcore fans overlooks, is that there’s really nothing to notice. And this hints at the harm celebrity worship does to the fans themselves. So preoccupied are the idolators with their dream of being noticed by people who clearly aren’t going to notice them, that their lives are consumed, and there’s no time left for contribution or achievement.


Above: This kind of repetititive ‘shotgun’ begging is rife in fan tweets, and some of these repetitions run into the thousands. Can the fans really wonder why stars would be reluctant to follow them after behaviour like this?

WASTE OF TIME

In the past, when people have said that someone is wasting their time, it’s often been very subjective and based on personal taste. Collecting stamps, for example, would be a “waste of time”, because the person making the assertion doesn’t like stamps. But this is different. Celebrity worship is categorically a waste of time, because when one individual, with absolutely nothing to offer beyond crazed idolatry, is trying to compete for attention with ten to fifteen million other followers doing exactly the same, on a faceless networking site, it’s inevitable that they WON’T be noticed. They’ll spend limitless amounts of time not getting what they want, and the only way that can be seen, is as a waste. Even if their idol eventually does happen to follow them on Twitter, you can bet that he or she will not be paying the remotest bit of attention to what they have to say. Dedicating your entire life to netting a celebrity button click on Twitter is the ultimate in futility.

But it gets worse… In fact, a whole ‘industry’ has sprung up around the practice of begging celebrities for attention. It’s not just the hopeless idolators who are wasting their lives. There are facilitators too – people who have managed to get a celebrity or two to follow them on Twitter, and now spend much of their time posing as influential ‘gateways’ to the stars. If these influential facilitators put a good word in, via Direct Message, your favourite celeb might just follow you too! To a limited extent, the ‘facilitators’ can acquire the kind of control the celebs themselves have. It’s lunacy. Fans treating another fan like royalty because he or she is considered (almost always wrongly) able to influence the star into paying them a split second of attention.

FAN MENTALITY

"... They expect some of the busiest, most admired and most inaccessible people in the world to respond to them – for no other reason than that it’s what THEY want."

I must say I’m puzzled by the mentality of the most dedicated Twitter idolators. Not so much because they have a wish to connect with someone who’s massively impressed them. That’s kind of understandable. But more because they have no concept of value, and what creates it. They don’t get that desire is a product of substance. You can’t simply beg to be liked, and through that action become likeable. In fact if you keep begging you’re infinitely more likely to be disliked.

But this mentality – the notion that other people should like and appreciate on demand – is hugely prevalent among modern day idolators. It’s common to see them begging for Followers and Retweets on Twitter without ever posting anything other than “Follow me!”, “Retweet this!”. And it’s common to see them begging for Likes and Follows on their ‘blogs’ or ‘video channels’ before they’ve even uploaded any content. I genuinely find this – the expectation that someone can be liked purely because they exist and want to be liked – absolutely shocking. It’s also common on talent shows like X Factor (another haven for deluded, desperate idolators) …

    “Oh please! I want this more than anything!!!”

    “Yes, but… you’re crap.”

    “Oh God, please… You HAVE to put me through to the next round! NO ONE wants this more than me!!!”

    “No, you’re useless. Go home.”

    “This is just WRONG!!! You have no idea how much I WANT this!!!”


It’s a very warped way of seeing the world. A complete lack of empathy. And what makes it even harder to stomach is that these ‘professional fans’ are invariably intolerant of anything in which they see no value. THEY don’t notice people in whom they have no interest. THEY won’t do anything for anyone who doesn’t appeal to them or offer them something of value in return. And yet they expect some of the busiest, most admired and most inaccessible people in the world to respond to them – for no other reason than that it’s what THEY want. It’s a jawdropping level of selfishness and a staggeringly distorted vision of reality.

LOW SELF-ESTEEM?…

I always used to think that hero-worship was a product of low self-esteem. But it really isn’t. It’s the opposite of that. These hero-worshipping fans are people who see themselves as important enough to be noticed and paid attention by the world’s most influential people, WITHOUT ACTUALLY DOING ANYTHING BEYOND EXISTING. That’s a frighteningly ill-considered self-vision, and I can’t see where it’s come from. The more this ridiculous notion is allowed to proliferate, the more danger there is that culture will die out. Naturally, the celebrities are not going to put their careers at risk by telling their fans they’re all deluded idiots, and that they need to stop wasting their time and do something useful. But if the celebs don’t do it, I’m really not sure who can – not with any authority or impact, anyway.

Something has to change, though, because human beings are not born to enslave themselves to people they’ve never met, will never connect with, and who don’t even know they exist. Appreciation has to be earned, and the way to earn it is to contribute. Imagine where we’d be if from the beginning of creation, humankind had simply begged to be liked. No transport, no gas, no electricity, no telephones, no computers, no music, no movies. Just a load of expectant losers sitting around with absolutely nothing, saying: “Oh please like me… PLEASE!… It’s what I WANT!!!”

Planet Botch is contactable only via Twitter.