261/366 – A Story Behind Every Internet Personality
There’s I think a false sense of closeness and connection that we might sometimes feel when it comes to the modern idea of celebrity, which inevitably involves the internet. This is especially true as it relates to those on the internet who are semi-famous, who are into or play games. Now, I’m not saying that this connection or closeness isn’t genuine or incorrect to feel when it comes to these people – if the internet has taught us anything it’s that interactions online are just as real and legitimate as those traditionally felt offline. But it doesn’t tell the whole story.
No matter how many Twitter replies, Facebook conversations, or Twitch livestream interactions people have with someone online, it’s likely that what they’re still getting is only part of what makes that person who they are and worthy of being followed, talked to, and admired. That’s because what you see online is still just a snippet of who someone is. You see the posts and the ideas, but 140 characters, multi-paragraph Facebook posts, and a live show just aren’t really enough to see into someone’s life. Day-to-day mundane things, the path which they took to become well-known online, friends and family that they hold dear – these are all things that you don’t typically see when peering into their lives through the internet filter.
But there have been steps to peel back the filter layer and see what’s behind the personality. Legends Rising, a series by Riot Games (developers of League of Legends), is in its second season and follows the story of a selected group of League professional players on their journey to try to make it to the top of the LoL mountain at the World Championships. Books from folks like Felicia Day outline the backstory of the things that made them famous, including how they meandered or made a beeline for the new media career on which they’ve embarked. And on an increasingly larger scale, mainstream media is picking up on the fact that the internet is producing a bunch of people who didn’t come to be famous in the traditional sense but who are just as successful and well-known as movie or TV celebrities and personalities. All of these have combined to create a better and clearer picture of folks online who’ve created a certain level of popularity.
I feel like knowing the stories here that drive the personalities is ultimately a good thing. There’s a bit of a dark side in that overexposure can sometimes be a bad thing when it comes to people who are almost exclusively most known for doing things on the internet, as the internet mob can, when desired, be vicious in its pursuit of trying to get to know the person behind the screen. But mostly, I think that the potential for humanizing who we admire online is something that will ultimately lead to a better understanding (and hopefully better treatment) of the people who do what they do when being internet famous. After all, they’re the ones that are putting themselves out there for our benefit as well as theirs. The least we can do is empathize when they need it.