On the internet, anyone can be a star, but none shine as brightly
A new trend in the vast reaches of cyberspace are websites or webapps that make self expression as easy as point-click-submit. There are literally millions of weblogs, podcasts, home videos, and on, and on. In a few minutes, anyone can create an entire website, a virtual shrine to themselves complete with all the bells and whistles that used to only be available with the help of professional site design. And as the wave of self-expression threatens to sweep us all into oblivion, the question is begged: Is this good or bad?
One the one hand, you could argue that by making self-expression easier and more readily available to the masses, people are more likely to reach new heights of creativity. On the other hand, isn't there a reason that not just any Tom, Dick, or Sally could get onto television? Well those were the good old days, when TV was an elite institution that required that only the best of the best made it onto the air. Then the era of reality TV (one of the most overlooked ironies of our time) was born and so was the illusion that anyone could be a star. Enter widespread internet use and millions of people yearning and aching for their chance at stardom.
This article is no exception. When you look at this page, it looks cool, professional, important. And if any thought that passes through my head can be published, I must be important, right? Wrong. I am not that important. This blog has a circulation of probably 4 devoted readers (two of them being my mom and dad) and I publish it mainly as a way to keep my thoughts on various subjects up-to-date. Plus it allows me to have a place to direct people to, if ever I want to share my opinions with them. But the amazing thing about the internet, at least for now, is that it allows anyone the ability to project themselves as being more important, successful, or whatever else they would like to be than they actually are. If I write as though I have hundreds of readers, some random person who stumbles upon my blog has no way of knowing whether or not its true. This has the effect of self-aggrandizement. In our minds, we all become as important as we pretend to be.
So now, everyone has a blog or a myspace account or a video on youtube. And if you've ever taken the time to sift through some of the massive amounts of web content that is out there, you know that everyone has something to say and acts like there are thousands of people waiting to hear it. But who is actually listening? If everyone is so busy creating their own content, when do they have time to view other people's content? And so we become an internet society of one-sided conversations. Everyone is talking and no one is listening.
Likely, as time goes on, the fad of massive self-expression on the web will dwindle and we will be left with only the best and most dedicated web expressionists. But until then, good luck wading through all the rest of the bullshit.
Sean Adams-Hiett is a syndicated columnist who writes regularly on "Carefully Pre-Screened Thoughts" and does regular guest appearances on the many websites that he operates. It can be assumed that he has a massive fanbase of regular readers that all adore his blunt, forward way of thinking and writing. He is truly an inspiration to the new generation of web expressionists.