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The Decline of Civilization … Contributing by Social Media?

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di Tom Davenport

I was recently sent a PR message encouraging me to blog about a new “social media for celebrity sightings” website called “OMGICU.” (Get it?) Given the sad state of our society, the site will probably be successful. How could it not be, having combined the two greatest time-wasters of the current era: social technologies and celebrity worship. To save you from visiting the site and increasing its page view count, here’s a typical sighting:  Jill Zarin seen in Upper East Side nnekaj10 says: “And now Jill Zarin and husband have joined their daughter at California Pizza Kitchen… Jill looks great!”

Wow, that’s amazing. OMG, who is Jill Zarin? And why should we care that she is going to a boring chain restaurant? And what’s up with her anonymous husband and daughter? If she’s a “celeb,” aren’t they famous, too? Fortunately, the sightings are so far confined to New York. Boston, my home, still isn’t celebrity-ridden enough to warrant its own site — though the Boston Globe seems to become more obsessed every day with the few we do have.

A century from now, historians will probably write (assuming we can still read by then) about the factors that led to the decline of our civilization. There will be numerous indicators of major problems: a third of their children didn’t graduate from high school! They watched television for 4.5 hours a day! They quibbled over whether their president could safely address schoolchildren!

On the list of signals of imminent decline, there will be a special place on the list for OMGICU, TMZ, and their ilk. What could be more vapid than browsing and tweeting each other about the daily lives of the Tila Tequilas (I don’t really know who she is either) of the world? What better bespeaks societal breakdown than our apparently endless fascination with the rich and famous? It’s bad for the celebrities and bad for the rest of us. There is hope, however. The New York Times reports that celebrity magazines are declining dramatically in circulation. Let’s hope that their readers aren’t simply migrating online.

Written by Daniel Casarin

settembre 12, 2009 a 7:07 am

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