Who is the most famous person you can think of? On the street you live in, how many other people do you think also know them? How about in any given street in the world?
Looking back at almost all of the super famous celebrities in the world its hard not to find a story which eventually says they spent a period of time being a recluse. If you have sat back as I have and wondered why, imagine being in that position…
You leave your house and see a neighbour (by neighbour I mean someone who lives near your $10,000,000 compound), they know you on a first name basis. That’s fine, that’s normal, you can deal with that. You make your way to the shops, lets be conservative and say every third person you meet knows you by name and speaks to you. Your quick jaunt down to the shops has just trebled in time talking to people who you don’t know, who know you very well. Ok, why not, its the reason you live where you do. This goes on and on and on…no matter where you go.
Holidays are “An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home”. Another word for a holiday is a “Break”. This is because it is giving you a “break” from the norm, usually escaping work and the mundane parts of life. But if you are a superstar, you can’t take a break from it. If you go to a suburb in Zimbabwe, chances are at least on person on that street will know you. Australia is a pretty remote place, so is Iceland, somebody on every street is going to know who you are and will likely try to talk to you and/or ask for a picture with you. So where do you go? Nowhere, you stay at home and lock yourself in…and I don’t blame you!
Think how weird the feeling is when you are recognised by someone you don’t know. The awkward conversation, fake smiles, fake friendship. Imagine that all the time, every day, by everyone, everywhere. Not only that, they know where you grew up, who you’re dating, who you broke up with, how much money you have made, how tall you are and where you live to say a few. Its kind of creepy.
“Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships—relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.” This makes evolutionary sense from our tribal past. Furthermore, studies are now suggesting that a major factor contributing to psychosis is living in highly dense populated areas, like cities. Depression is on the rise, prescription drugs are now a national crisis…maybe we have access to more humans than we can handle. That is for the average person in the population. 7.5 billion people know you as a superstar, try to engage and interact with you. If Dunbar’s number is real? Good luck trying to keep your sanity.
Now try being on social media if you’re a megastar. Every single post is dissected, scrutinised, twisted and manipulated…and all you said was Happy Birthday to a colleague on Twitter. There’s nothing left in life for you which isn’t judged and can have a profound effect on your life and career, you’re constantly stepping on eggshells. The worst part? The people trying to destroy everything you have created are the same people with their internet masks removed who are chasing you down every street begging for a picture or small conversation. You cant live a life in the real world and you cant live a virtual life. What’s left for you apart from seclusion and constant house arrest?
The internet has brought us closer together, but for the select few, it’s pushed them far, far away. It’s kind of weird (for them anyway…)