I’ve come to the realization that fan mail has been replaced by tweets.
Do you even remember fan mail? How many of you ever actually wrote a letter to an artist or band, licked an envelope and sent it off in the mail with hopes of a handwritten response or autographed picture? I bet I could count you on one hand.
I feel safe in saying that the 25-and-olders of the world are the last generation to remember the joy and anticipation of fan mail—I myself remember writing a heartfelt letter to the Backstreet Boys, circa 1998. However, the Beliebers and Little Monsters of today no longer need to bother with stamps and ink. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have allowed instant access to celebrities and, with this access, have heightened expectations of superfans everywhere.
It’s an interesting phenomenon, this complete obliteration of not-so-old-school ways of communication. It’s no big secret that we now communicate in different ways, but I just recently began giving it serious thought. Why? A few weeks ago, I re-entered the Twitter world, and I entered with one goal: All I want is for Ryan Adams to tweet me.
You see, my birthday is Nov. 5, and so is Adams’. In the coming weeks, I plan on tweeting @TheRyanAdams this fact over and over. Somewhere in my obsessed little brain, I believe that Ryan Adams, an alt-country/rock superstar who has worked with Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris, will think it is totally awesome that we share a birthday and tweet me back something nice. It will go something like,
“@UCantBeSarious—no way! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! that is so cool! i’d love to meet and marry you someday, but until then let’s be Twitter buddies and here are free concert tickets!!”
Needless to say, this is completely delusional. Not only is that tweet over 140 characters, but there is almost zero chance that a rockstar is going to care about my 25th birthday. How many other Adams fans were born on Nov. 5? His Twitter inbox will be inundated with countless fans saying the exact same thing, hoping for the exact same reaction. Adams, who actually maintains his own account, can only care so much—he does, after all, have a 38th birthday to celebrate.
We know that our chances of getting a reply are slim, and that the chances of a celebrity actually handling their own accounts is even slimmer (many Twitter/Facebook accounts are maintained by a team of publicists—Adams’ Facebook page, for instance). So what do we expect when we contact celebs via Facebook or Twitter? It isn’t as if an autographed photo or CD will come to us, ready to be proudly framed and hung in the foyer. Can a tweet actually beat out physical evidence of celebrity love? Maybe. Because (and I include myself in this) in our increasingly self-indulgent and narcissistic society, being mentioned by a celebrity for over one million followers to see is the ultimate achievement.
“I tweet celebrities because it’s cool—you can see what they’re up to,” said Lauren Marusarz, junior health and human sciences major. “You can ask them to follow you, and when they do follow you or tweet you, it’s a big deal.”
In other words, tweeting celebrities validates us. We matter, if only for a moment—and that moment is immortalized in a tweet.