Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mourning Becomes Electric

Interesting post on

Basically, Jason K. wonders what will happen as our media-saturated society creates more and more micro-celebrities. Of course, those of us who watch or read a lot of popular culture media will all feel as though we know these celebrities. Then, as time goes along, the celebrities will die, and it will be as though people we know are dying -- constantly.

Kottke wondered, "Will the NY Times national obituary section swell to 30 pages a day?"

This reminds me of the "Scary World" effect of media -- the more we watch television, the more we think the world is scarier and more dangerous than it actually is. And that's because humans are wired to deal with only a small number of people in our lifetimes, to really know at most 50 or 100 people, to only care about those 50 to 100 people.

Yet when we hear about child abductions or murders from all over the country or even the world (whether fiction or fact), brought to us via media that moves and emotes, we feel as though we know those children, those murdered people, and by extension, we feel as if we or our children are in danger.

Following a similar logic, Kottke points out that we'll feel the same when all our "close personal friends" who are celebrities die. This has been happening for a long time, of course (Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and so on), but it's accelerating because the number of 15-minute-famous people is growing in our 24-hour-news world.

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