Social media and following people you admire

I spend a lot of time on social media on any given day. Whether that's just because I keep Tweetdeck open on my second monitor when I don't need it for some other more valuable purpose, or because I like to read Facebook on my breaks at work, or because G+ is someplace to browse when I run out of other things to do on my phone when procrastinating or something.

And like many people I have a mix of people I know in person and people I don't on my social media profiles. I also follow/like the occasional brand or organization, of course and have my own reasons for following each of those profiles (for example: to enter a contest, to get extreme weather notifications, to find out what is happening, to hear about sales, to find out why something is or isn't working, because I genuinely like a product or business etc.).

But the people who are not people I know in real life, who might be actors that I admire, comic artists/writers I enjoy, who are writers, who are local celebrities, who are musicians I enjoy etc. are not necessarily followed for the same reasons I might follow a friend I once met through CKI, or a co-worker, or a classmate, or a family member etc.

And you know what I find? Following these people often humanizes them: makes them more than just their work. You can learn of their family lives sure, but you can also find out about senses of humor, engage in debates, find out about the causes and issues that interest them, and realize that you might have something in common. There is of course a certain danger of the celebrity that you might be a fan of might lose some of their lustre, but was that adulation really deserved if that is the case? I think that I like a lot of my favourite musical artists, writers, artists, etc. more because I now know more about their beliefs in so far as they want to share them.

And this is key, social media is not for prying into another person's affairs without permission: it is instead for communicating what one wants to communicate. Rallying folks around a cause one cares deeply about is something that happens online, but it's unlikely that such rallying will happen if that cause is so private that it is hidden from the fans/followers/likers etc. of a certain individual. We interact or watch what is put up by people (or at times by people's people — a reference to those who have their staff or friends update things when they can't or won't do so themselves) on purpose.

But human-ness doesn't excuse completely inappropriate behaviour. Sometimes an someone will fall from a pedestal and crash to the ground completely unable to be repaired on social media. There are celebrities etc. of whom I will never be fond simply because of what social media has revealed of themselves.

Yes social media is a part of many of our every day lives now. Yes it is problematic. But at the same time, I think I'm fond of following the more celebrity type folks I do because they challenge me to think of things in new ways, they challenge me to be a better person and to learn about the issues that surround me and my interactions with others in different lights. That's not likely to be the case for every well-known person one might follow, but I don't just follow for no reason online: they must contribute something worthwhile to my experience.