Sometimes it seems like the virtual world of television, celebrities, and spectacle are more real to us than are our mundane, everyday quotidian lives. Do we know celebrities better than we know our own families? In a Salon.com article titled “Head in the Stars,” Jancee Dunn, who regularly interviews celebrities for articles she writes, considers this question. For example, she writes:

A chasm has opened between my personal and professional life, widening a little every year — measured by what I know about famous strangers and what I know about those closest to me. I’ve had conversations with celebrities that often were startlingly more intimate than those I’ve had with my closest friends.

She goes on to write:

We know everything about these phantom friends — Britney and Nicole and “American Idol” rejects — at the expense of archiving our own personal history. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, most of us are constantly churning through an astonishing amount of information about them. In today’s mobile world, the comfort of the small-town coffee klatch has been replaced by this tabloid community. Celebrities have become the cool kids in our collective high school, the ones who are envied, emulated, despised, as we talk about their exploits, chummily using their first names (Gwyneth! Jessica!).

In a sweet move she begins to ask her mom some of the questions she normally would ask celebrities and is amazed and touched by her responses.

Do we really care more about what happens to or even feel closer to people who are not physically real to us (i.e. those that we only know virtually through television, magazine and newspaper articles, Internet updates, etc.). Why might our obsession with celebrities have developed? What does it tell us about our selves and our worlds? [link]

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