The winter wedding season is in full swing and with the recent nuptials of some of Bollywood’s (and Hollywood’s *cough* Nick *cough*) most beloved of pairs, the internet is going through a serious FOMO frenzy. In November, the world saw Bollywood queen, Deepika marry her longtime beau Ranveer Singh. Just a few weeks ago, Priyanka Chopra wed Nick Jonas in what was a whirlwind romance that garnered just as much drama as a real life Indian soap opera. Despite the majority of the internet falling head over heels for the lovey-dovey pair, some folks critiqued the couple for their highly publicized wedding events that saw a strong brand presence throughout. And of course, most recently, Isha Ambani’s wedding festivities are in full swing, garnering the attention of international media as news broke out that Beyoncé was amongst the A-list guests invited to the lavish ordeal.
What makes us so interested in such over-the-top, and dramatic events that are, quite the contrary, supposed to be rather intimate and private moments between loved ones and their respective families? Are we so consumed in the lives of the elite and so drawn into the aura of ornate spectacles that we have become infatuated with the ever impending news of another famous couple getting hitched only to be able to relish in the delight that are post-event instagram photos? Why do we swoon and awe over Nick Jonas and Priyanka’s gushy posts? Why are we savouring every last detail that we can milk out of Deepika and Ranveer’s highly secretive and private event?
Celebrity culture has amassed itself into an entire psychological concept that we are unconsciously reinforcing in our hearts and minds. The entertainment industry has become somewhat of a phenomenon, garnering attention recently with the “Me Too” movement following a mass influx of sexual harassment/abuse/trauma claims against the megalith men in the industry. Celebrities have become products of an industry that aims to solely profit from our carefully curated interest in said celebrities. With the growth and influence of social media in the past decade alone, we have come to find ourselves in an era where images, celebrities, and entertainment have all coagulated into one dense mass of what is essentially, capitalistic control.
In one of his most prolific works, American culture critic, Neil Postman talks about the danger of this phenomenon:
“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility…Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas, they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials.”
Is our obsession with celebrity culture damaging our capacity to be free thinking, assiduous members of society? Are we numbing ourselves under the guise of being entertained? There’s no doubt that capitalism is alive and thriving, Instagram itself has warped into the massive over-sharing, egocentric, instantly gratifying app that we know and love today because capitalism is the driving force behind a large majority of our interaction on there. Now, millions of people all over the world are “social media influencers.” Social media as a product is just another convenient tool for mass corporations to infiltrate (subtly, of course) our psyches. Add targeted advertising into the mix and you’ll start to see how we’ve become nothing more than puppets, waiting to be directed on where to look and when and how.
American historian, Christopher Lasch wrote about this in his book The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations:
“Our growing dependence on technologies no one seems to understand or control has given rise to feelings of powerlessness and victimization. We find it more and more difficult to achieve a sense of continuity, permanence, or connection with the world around us. Relationships with others are notably fragile; goods are made to be used up and discarded; reality is experienced as an unstable environment of flickering images. Everything conspires to encourage escapist solutions to the psychological problems of dependence, separation, and individuation, and to discourage the moral realism that makes it possible for human beings to come to terms with existential constraints on their power and freedom.”
It seems as though we have created this culture of celebrity and have gotten to the point that it is so normalized and trivial, that it’s accepted as readily as the concept of gravity. Of course, there are two sides to every coin and social media has, along with its mass and hasty proliferation, brought some good. The interconnectedness that users feel allows for a rapid sharing of news, information, and ideas. Media has transformed the way we perceive even the most mundane of things. It has allowed us to see and hear stories from people all over the world that would otherwise remain silent in their resilience. Social media has granted us a means to have a platform for our creativity and art, a way for us to share our passions with the world at large.
The hyper-information-celebrity-culture age we are living in today requires us to tread with caution if we are to make it out alive. We’re all influenced to some degree by social media. We’ve all been impacted by the glorified and glamorized images we see on heavily curated and edited pages of the “influencers” and celebrities we follow. Our self esteem has most certainly taken a dive once or twice from feelings of inadequacy and remorse. Online bullying is a powerful and dangerous epidemic, stemming from the growth and ease of access of the online sphere. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in the media frenzy of wedding season. Sometimes, it can be a nice distraction or even offer some inspiration. At the end of the day, striking a balance between your mental, emotional, and spiritual health is your own responsibility and that comes from awareness and the desire to not allow your mind to be controlled so readily.
So follow #Deepveer #Niyanka et cetera, but don’t forget to unplug, log off, and look inwards sometimes too.