For George Orwell to get published now he would have to flash his nipples on Love Island and Vera Wang would start promoting Pretty Little Thing on Instagram

Last summer, I found myself discussing the differences between fame and infamy (https://www.shoutoutuk.org/2017/09/11/shakespeare-wouldnt-make-now-hed-cbb-clothing-line-rep-fittea/). Essentially, I concluded that in the last decade there has been a rise and media takeover of people who are famous for no ‘real’ reason, people known as ‘reality stars’. This year, it would seem, I am now considering the impact their rise has on the quality of media and subsequently us as consumers of the media. And I am wondering if because of such reality stars, are there those with actual exceptional abilities being side-lined for opportunities?

To start with, it can also be argued that other industries are suffering in quality because of their infamy. For instance, across my social media and news apps I see journalists writing about the most mundane, and realistically the most un-news news.

Everyday a jarring image is shown; on the Daily Mail Online Snapchat news icon, I’ll see the headings ‘Demi goes wild – Model teams leopard-print swimsuit with matching turban for sexy snaps on Instagram’ and ‘Kylie Jenner gets playful with her look yet again by wearing a ‘denim blue – and little else’, before I am shown things that actually matter – like real news. For example, ‘State of emergency ­– Flash floods topple buildings and wash away cars in Maryland as streets turn into raging river’ and ‘Beaten on the beach – Shocking footage shows police officer punching woman in the face during Memorial Day arrest.” And, on a more positive note, ‘Real-life Spider-man – Man scales four-floor apartment block in Paris to save boy clinging on to balcony’ or ‘From Missouri trucker to Manhattan socialite – Woman who founded TranAm traded the Midwest for $11 million apartment in Plaza Hotel.’ In the last 24 hours the Daily Mail Online Snapchat news icon has posted 42 headlines and their accompanying articles. Out of the 42, 32 were about celebrities. From the various days I checked the app, I gauged that the majority of this tabloid gossip was about the Kardashians, Geordie Shore cast members, Love Island and Instagram models. 

Imagine, getting a BA, maybe even a MA in Journalism, and this be the socio-cultural, cutting edge headlines you wrote about. I genuinely sometimes question if I want to be a journalist if this is what news is becoming. Not only that, but this barrage of mindless, not to sound old but ‘guff’, is surely having an adverse impact on our minds?

In her article, ‘How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media?’, Evan Asano explained that:

  • The amount of time people spend on social media is constantly increasing. Teens now spend up to nine hours a day on social platforms, while 30% of all time spent online is now allocated to social media interaction. And the majority of that time is on mobile – 60% of social media time spent is facilitated by a mobile device.
  • To give a better understanding of the social media landscape, we calculated the time spent across the most popular social media platforms, projected what it means within a consumer’s lifetime, and compared these figures against common daily activities and examples of what can be accomplished with an equivalent amount of time (e.g. walk the Great Wall of China 3.5x, and run 10K+ marathons).
  • Astonishingly, the average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media everyday, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime. Even more, time spent on social media is only expected to increase as platforms develop, and is expected to eat further into traditional media – most notably TV. Right now, the average person will spend 7 years and 8 months watching TV in a lifetime. However, as digital media consumption continues to grow at unprecedented rates, this number is expected to shrink in counter to that expansion. Currently, total time spent on social media beats time spent eating and drinking, socializing, and grooming.

If our time is increasingly spent looking at social media, and the news platforms which use them, with their constant reality star gossip, our minds, intelligence and awareness of things that matter will suffer.

On the other hand, the above described nihilistic, and apocalyptic, future of mindless human drones understanding the circumference of Kim Kardashian’s buttocks but not who the PM is, is maybe a stretch. Indeed, during the general election we were the generation of young people who were switched on about important political and social issues. We showed our support and criticism for parties and leaders. There were posts about it left, right and centre. However, the problem in everyday life is that the majority, but not all, of our generation don’t care for the monotonous breakdown of Michael Gov’s environmental policy — not when they can catch-up on the juicy gossip regarding the latest episode of Love Island. 

If you hadn’t guessed, it also worries me that our generation spends so much time talking and learning about people who aren’t famous for achievements in sport, the arts, innovation or humanitarian work. This brings me onto the crux of all this. By these reality stars getting so much time in the spotlight and therefore building up millions of followers, they now, along with starring on every programme, also present shows on MTV, ITV channels, E4 and E!. They also have clothing lines, fitness DVDs, make-up products, books deals and are brand ambassadors. This is a far cry from the situation ten years ago when you only vaguely recognised them from Iceland adverts and the back of gossip magazines. They hopped between low end ‘celebrity’ gameshows and disappeared eventually. Charlotte Crosby, Queen of Geordie Shore, is the perfect example of someone who has managed to branch from reality star to achieving all of the above. She is now a regular panellist on This Morning, has appeared on shows like Celebrity Juice and Xtra Factor, she won CBB in 2015, she presents Just Tattoo of Us, has numerous fitness DVDs, and she has just launched her own reality show. Clearly she is, to some degree, a talented presenter. The British public love her strong, funny and honest attitude. I give it to her, she has managed to carve a lasting and successful career from weeing in a sink. 

And yet, I do have some issues with her rise to fame; she also has released three books, two being autobiographical and the other relating to health and fitness, and has a regular column in Star Magazine. She has also launched fashion and swimwear lines, entitled ‘Nostalgia’, with the online fashion retail In The Style. Now this is not to sound diminishing to her, but Charlotte Crosby has no past experience or qualifications in writing or designing. The only details concerning her education on the internet state that she got good grades at school and considered a Criminology degree. Compare this with the situation of others… Many undergrad  (like myself), post grad, and apprenticeship students will struggle to get their foot in the door of these very industries. 

Not to sound like I am complaining, I mean I am but that’s not the point, I am a second year History student with several work placements at news/marketing companies, I’ve done volunteer work, I write this column for the magazine (*cough* did win two awards at the Student Media Event *cough*) and my sad little self has written a book (if you fancy helping a gal out, message me to give it a read). Nevertheless, I struggle to get a week’s unpaid placement for a regional paper, or even an email back from them when I send in articles. And realistically, even if my book is not total trash, the likelihood of it ever being published is slim. 

Moreover, I know so many innovative and creative designers and artists who have so much talent and will spend years working on their craft. And yet, once again, even if they create amazing work, will they be subordinated in opportunities for someone who is apparently qualified, despite knowing comparatively nothing?

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