Social media has brought a new kind of fame into the world. The new "big screen" comes in at just under five inches diagonally, and that brings great confusion. It seems the most common conclusion from journalists – from Buzzfeed to The New Yorker – is this: "Social media Teen X is famous, despite having no immediate skills that equate to stardom. Why? No one knows."
I think I know why.
First, it's important to understand that adults equate possessing tremendous talent to being worthy of being known. Fame is defined by the "I could never..." factor – I could never dunk that hard, I could never sing that well, I could never be that beautiful. This image is perpetuated by the grand scale in which we consume fame: in sold out stadiums, on shows televised to millions, on the front page of nationally distributed magazines.
But these platforms are not accessible to kids – they need a ride to the movies, an ID to get in to the concert, a credit card to download music. Exposure comes secondhand, they are entering into a world that's been predefined.
They don't, however, need a ride, credit card, or chaperone for Instagram, Twitter, or Vine. As a result, all the content on these platforms is already #relatable. It's about school, weekends, phones, and parents; not sex, jobs, cars, or money. They are making and discovering on their own.
It would make sense then, that because kids' environments are constricted to the homogenous mini worlds immediately available to them – namely home and school – the criteria for fame is not talent, skill, or scale, but rather an embodiment of commonality. It's defined by the "I could..." factor – I could talk like that, I could have that phone, I could wear those jeans. Fame is unquestionably attainable, but just out of reach.
Fame comes from evoking feelings. How do you make me feel? You don't need to be good at something, you just have to be human.