As Jill Walker Rettberg’s book, Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, mentioned, celebrities tend to have more liberty when it comes to self-expression and self-representation online. And though that might be, I think we can agree that doesn’t mean it holds true for every celebrity. Many celebrities claim that they use social media as a way to connect with their fans. As they post “every-day life” photos, it shows followers how human a celebrity is, and how they’re “just like us”.
I wrote “just like us” in quotes because I don’t mean to say that these celebrities are not, but there’s definitely a different way society perceives someone whose life and career is already so public. I think fans are still primarily “readers of text”, a term Rettberg used in the People or Text? section in Chapter 1. There are still few celebrities who actively engage with their followers by replying to comments and taking part in conversations online. They continually post, and their fans continually like, comment, double tap, retweet, favorite, repost, etc. Even I take part in this. I enjoy following my favorite celebrities on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. It really is interesting to see how they live their day-to-day life and keep up with their lastest projects. There’s a particular admiration we hold for these celebrities, which is why we follow them.
But what happens when celebrities post something they normally wouldn’t or, more importantly, “shouldn’t”? As an audience, it is not uncommon for us to be judgmental of what is posted. We still have a right to decipher what is acceptable for certain people to share. This was an issue quite some time before, but former-actress Amanda Bynes comes to mind. She used to have her own TV show on Nickelodeon and often played roles with the “good-girl” image. Then she began tweeting things considered rude or unladylike. She was highly criticized and many of her fans growing up found themselves asking, “What happened to her?”. She is not the only female celebrity to get in trouble for what she posts. From Miley Cyrus to Kim Kardashian, there are a number of celebrities online who continually receive high criticism because they aren’t representing themselves on social media as how society expects them. I agree with Rettberg that this is true. Society has expectations for women and how they present themselves online. If they don’t follow, then we’re led to judge them for their so-called “poor social media choices.”