Avoiding "Idolization" (On the Internet)


Game Grumps is something I think a lot about in this context because they’ve been a part of my life for years. The show acts as a real comfort food. But especially because of that, I have to keep in mind that I don’t actually know them! I think admitting faults and talking about problems can help people who are going through similar things and help us realize that these people are living whole lives that we don’t see.

Like I listen to Waypoint Radio regularly, but I don’t think of their lives in the concrete outside of what details they mention. I don’t think about what the normalcy of their lives unless their dialog openly invites it. I think pondering the unseen lives of others goes a long way both in creating empathy and realizing distance.


I have a strange offshoot of this where I don’t idolize “them” so much as I feel a friendship with them or a need to be friends with them and have that casual relationship. I mean, some of this could be related to other personal issues I’m working on, but what manifests is not so much worship as it is wanting to experience mundane-friend-things with them.


I understand this. I have a lot of interests I don’t share with others in my social group. I have to go online to find a community, and sometimes I wish I could participate in what looks like a fun friend group dedicated to the things I enjoy. I mean, participate as more than an audience.


One of the things that helped me get out of the idol mindset was joining Twitter and getting seriously involved in it, re: talking to creators and engaging with them. Sure, there’s a terrifying aspect of it (you’re on a giant stage where everyone can see you), but when you see people behave and converse casually in spite/awareness of that fact, you’ll quickly begin to see creators as living breathing human beings more and more (in a way I think the world could use more of…)


I’ve thought about this, as I feel like my interactions with internet famous people on Twitter have been largely positive and illuminating, for some people they definitely are not that. It seems to me that if someone doesn’t already have a mindset where they’re already willing to treat celebrities like they’re real people, Twitter interactions can get super toxic super fast.


Wanted to say I appreciate the discussion that’s been going on in this forum: in this thread, Okay, Fine, Let's Talk About Logan Paul (And Dr DisRespect), and now Patrick’s article My Job Doesn't Exist Without the Support of Fans. How Much Do I Owe Them?. Reflection on our weird new world of faux relationships and monetized personalities, it’s been cool.


I’m lucky in that I haven’t closely followed anyone online who’s turned out to be a human trash fire.

It’s hard not to overstep the boundary sometimes though especially on twitter. You feel like you know them but they don’t know you at all so it can make for some awkward interactions.

I gave Austin a bit of a hard time about using the default HUD in a Breath of the Wild video and he replied back “okay” and then I realised that we didn’t have the familiarity for me to be making jokes like that. I just thought I did because of the hours of podcasts. Needless to say I feel bad about it and if you by chance read this, I’m sorry Austin!


I definitely feel this. There is so much intimacy in the media that at least I personally consume. I’ve been watching Let’s Plays for years, even though I genuinely don’t think they’re very good content and don’t think it enriches my life. Now, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I am constantly in the state of feeling like I’ve had conversations with these people, even though that’s clearly not the case.

Like @Skronk was saying, I do feel like this dynamic is damaging to everyone involved. Not to say I don’t think personality and being earnest or candid is media is bad, but this dynamic of feeling like you’re actually friends with someone feels really weird and ugly. I have to constantly remind myself that I’ve never spoken with them, and that they don’t know me and I don’t know them.


I don’t have so much trouble with idolazation but I do feel super uncomfortable with how much people like this begin to feel like my friends. I got the chance at pax once to shoot the shit with Jeff Gerstmann for a couple hours at a bar and could talk back and forth with him with a lot of ease and familiarity even though he doesn’t know me at all (I’m sure hes used to that) and quite honestly I don’t really know him.

I can’t exactly put my finger on why this exchange has since bothered me so much, I had a great time. Its only in retrospect that it creeps me out.


I’ve had a bunch of feelings around this topic that I haven’t been able to find words for yet, but I think this cultural normalization of bad behavior towards celebrities is key. Like, everything around how we treat celebrities is completely fucked, and mostly normalized because there are entire industries that profit off of it. Dehumanization, stalking, and isolation is apparently just the cost of fame, particularly if you’re an actress. Having to be a role model and not a person if you’re marginalized and famous is a thing.

There’s just a whole pile of awful behavior that we tolerate as normal, which then gets applied to people who are way less famous, but still visible. On a cultural level, it’s just a logical extension of how we treat celebrities. It gets to a point where the only difference in whether or not you treat a stranger as a human being is whether or not you’ve heard of them at all.

Anyway, treat people as people, not as objects or role models, or whatever other fucked thing entertainment media wants you to do.


Well, they want you to treat them as consumable commodities. Which is a big part of the issue with how we react to celebrities. The entertainment industry packages and sells celebrities just like any other industry packages and sells their products. And as the consumerist line of thought goes, if you’ve paid for a product, whether monetarily through buying an album or movie ticket, or through your attention which is then turned into money through advertising, isn’t that product then yours? Shouldn’t you have control over it? This is the thinking that our society is structured around, and as the lines between who is or isn’t a celebrity is blurred and how internet content is paid for gets murkier, this mode of thinking becomes even more damaging than it already was, especially when it comes to smaller creators trying to make a living through the internet with personality-driven media. Kim Kardashian for sure has someone she pays to handle her Twitter mentions, just like celebrities have always had people who handle their fan mail. Someone working for a game journalism website almost certainly do not have that.