Virtual Communities for Development

Virtual Communities for Development

Deidra Fryer (George Washington University, USA) and Eric Turner (George Washington University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-563-4.ch099
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Abstract

Americans, and to some extension, the greater world, appear to have an obsession with celebrity. We often find ourselves defined not by our deeds but by our relationship, either real or imagined, with famous people. Celebrity lives appear more appealing or real to us because we can see their lives up close and in ways we cannot see our own. Peter Howe (2005), in his book Paparazzi: And Our Obsession With Celebrity, examines the origins, ethics and our insatiable appetite for celebrity that keeps the paparazzi in such demand. With so many things competing for our attention, we often pursue the path of least resistance. We go to bed and wake up to the celebration of celebrity through mass communications media. The major network television morning news and late-night shows tend to focus only the first 10 minutes of broadcast, if any, on national and local affairs of society, and then quickly retreat to celebrity promotions or gossip. For dinnertime or early evening entertainment, the major networks are filled with such shows as Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and Celebrity Justice. Cable networks and radio also serve as additional mass-media vehicles to further celebrate and promote celebrity. The Internet has become the newest vehicle to help feed this frenzy of celebrity pursuit. Thousands of virtual communities of interests have developed to help foster a sense of relationships to celebrities, feed these obsessions and escape from reality. Does Internet usage favor the development of new communities, virtual communities; or instead, is it inducing personal isolation, severing people’s ties with society and ultimately the real world? This article examines virtual communities from the perspective of the American obsession with celebrity, using as an example a Yahoo celebrity virtual community that has evolved over a period of four years.

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