Private Person, Unwilling Celebrity

I don’t think there is any such thing as a “private person” anymore. The vast majority of us constantly groom our internet presence, choosing the right filter on Instagram for our brunch and taking polls of our friends about our next Facebook profile picture. We don’t think about this as a public act when we have only 400 connections on LinkedIn or 3,000 followers on Tumblr. No one imagines the Daily Mail write-up or the Jezebel headline. We actively create our public selves, every day, one social media post at a time. Little kids dream of becoming famous YouTubers the same way I wanted to be a published author when I was twelve.

But there are also those of us who don’t choose this. We keep our accounts locked, our Instagram profile set to “friends only.” Maybe we learned a lesson when a post took off and left the safe haven of our community, picked apart in a horrifying display of context collapse. Maybe we are hiding from something: a stalker, an abusive ex, our family members who don’t know our true queer identity. To some of us, privacy is as vital as oxygen. Without it we are exposed—butterflies with our wings pinned to the corkboard, our patterns scrutinized under a magnifying glass. For what? For entertainment? For someone else’s mid-workday escapism? For a starring role in someone else’s bastardized rom com?

A woman boarded a plane in New York and stepped off that plane in Dallas. She chatted with a stranger, showed him some family photos, brushed his elbow with her own. She wore a baseball cap over her face and followed him back on Instagram. At no point did she agree to participate in the story Rosey Blair was telling. After the fact, when the hunt began and the woman took no part in encouraging it the way Holden did, Blair tweeted a video in which she drawled, “We don’t have the gal’s permish yet, not yet y’all, but I’m sure you guys are sneaky, you guys might…”

Blair’s followers were sneaky. They did as they were told and immediately replied with screenshots of the woman’s Instagram account. They shared links.

When people called Blair out for this blatant invasion of privacy, she blocked them. Because she, apparently, could control her own boundaries. Later she tweeted about wanting a job at BuzzFeed.

Source: We Are All Public Figures Now – Ella Dawson

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6 thoughts on “Private Person, Unwilling Celebrity

  1. Rosey Blair did apologize and it was seemingly heartfelt from what I have read.

    I think this is not only a problem of social media but because traditional media also seems desperate for content. It would be bad enough if it was just viral but the story made it to GMA and Today. The male participant was only too happy to go along with the circus and build his brand.

    Rosey Blair was trying to be savvy and build her brand as well.

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    • Yup. In a world where the pipeline to actual good media jobs are locked away with unpaid internships that only the children of the rich can afford to take, people are going to use social media as a platform to get noticed.

      I mean, it’s just as possible this all became a positive (like the viral Twitter thread about a movie plot with a bunch of famous women becoming thiefs that ended up with the Twitterer getting a script deal ,Ana Duvernay rewtweeing it, etc.) and it’s lauded as the positive side of social media.

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      • Well she considered herself an actor, comedian and writer, these were always careers that needed hustle.

        But it is more of an “amusing ourselves to death” kind of thing. Internet media and now regular media are a 24-7 thing and they always need new content. Hence “people made these witty remarks on twitter” articles which can be produced quickly and cheaply.

        Plus we always have it open at work.

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      • Using social media to get noticed isn’t a problem. It’s doing so at another person’s expense, especially when that other person did not consent to being part of the display.

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    • Morning shows like GMA and Today were always built on frothy, supposedly feel good stories and segments like PlaneBae. Its what their audience wants along with some things they scold over, recipes, celebrity gossip, and some musical performances. Social media just gives them a deeper mine to get frothy feel good human interest stories.

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  2. I’m reading the text of the article and thinking….the writer is a woman. How many males, not in media “groom” their profiles and all that crap? I’d wager few. SM is primary a chic thing. I recently got back from a kick ass vacation with the girlfriend. I don’t know what she’d have done with out wifi. She was posting pictures of herself, that she had made me take, and pictures of what we saw, on Facebook. EVERYBODY loved it. She was on her tablet constantly when we had downtime.

    Dear god…what a frickin was of time.

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