My Existential Crisis of Snapchatting Celebrities
This is a crazy social media age we live in. Your favorite celebrity is only a tweet away. Sure, they might have a hundred thousand followers, but you can still send them a friendly hello.
Then, a miracle happens. They write you back. They retweet your tweet. They comment on the post you left on their Facebook page. Or in my case, they write back “Thank you!” on Snapchat.
Elation! Joy! Happy dance! Maybe you bust out “Brand New Day” from The Wiz. Whatever the reaction is, that moment you are special. Celebrities get hundreds if not thousands of messages a day from fans. For one moment though, your favorite bestowed their blessing and attention to you.
And if you’re not careful, it can be a trap.
When I discovered Snapchat, I spent a week feeling like an old lady trying to figure it out. I wasn’t the twenty-eight year old social media manager from my job. I was my fifty year old father on “Spacebook.” Thanks to the guidance of my coworker who was more helpful than ten “How to Snapchat” blogs from Google, I was finally ready to dive in. It was fun shooting silly pictures to my friends. I even caught up with an old buddy from college. I could see how this little app was addicting.
Then on Tumblr, I noticed a post about two actors having a conversation on Snapchat. It hit me. Did my favorite actor have Snapchat? Was it like Twitter where I could follow him? Could I have conversations with him since his publicist ran his (now boring) Twitter account? At the same time, I’m always worried that I might bother an actor. Unlike Twitter which is open season, Snapchat felt very personal. On the bad side, I could see how easy it could be to shoot an inappropriate picture and send it off. But on the opposite argument, you could also use it to get to know someone. Since I live the uneventful life of a poor freelance writer, I mostly take pictures of the comic book store I work in or my cats. That would let someone know my life. They would know my job, my pets, whatever I wanted them to see. It could be invasive if the wrong person was following you, or you could use it to make new friends.
A Google search revealed my favorite celebrity’s username. Here it was at my fingertips. A window into this person’s life! I only needed to push the button. Did I mention that I’m incredibly shy when it comes to meeting new people? Or in this case, using new social media apps to approach people I highly admire?
I spent two days debating if I should actually follow him or not. I had many internal soliloquies that started with, “To hit the follow button or not to hit the follow button– that is the question!” There was always the possibility that he would follow me back. What if he saw my incredibly boring life and judged me on it? Or maybe with his active lifestyle, my world would seem charming and quaint? My mind got away from me on several possibilities. Biting my lip, my thumb pressed the follow button, and I spastically tossed the phone on my bed. I left it there for a couple hours scared to see the results. That night, I finally unlocked my phone, clicked on the Snapchat ghost icon, and watched the screen load.
I panicked for nothing. I followed him, but he didn’t follow back. In fact at the time this article is written, he still doesn’t follow me. My stomach twisted in a mix of relief and disappointment. He couldn’t see how boring I was or when I fail to be funny, but he couldn’t see what kind of person I was either. It looked like we wouldn’t “snap” moments of our lives in a fun conversation after all. With that, I went to bed.
Then, I moved into Wedding Week. No, not my wedding. My best friend got married recently. She lives two states away, and I was the maid of honor. It was a stressful month leading up to it, and I didn’t pay that much attention to Snapchat. I would see the occasional picture of the play this actor was working on which was exciting. The play was in London, so I had no chance of seeing it. But I was incredibly proud and excited for his West End debut. The wedding passed with no hiccups and a bit too much drinking. It was a fun, nice mini-vacation. As me and two of my friends piled into the car for our trek back to Georgia, I found a little courage in me. Maybe it was the hangover or the exhaustion sinking in, but I decided to make a move.
I snapped a photo of my bridesmaid bouquet and wished him luck on the opening night that Tuesday. Then, a miracle happened.
He wrote back “Thankyou!!!”
And I screamed… which was probably not a smart thing to do in a car where you can spook the driver. I didn’t care. In that one moment, I was special. I had been graced with an answer from my favorite. He could have answered anyone, and he wrote back to me.
What did it mean? I was and still am new to Snapchat. Was this an open invitation to send more pictures? How often was it appropriate to chat with someone you highly admire? Once a day? A week? On occasion? Never? What was proper Snapchat etiquette in this kind of situation?
I needed to be cool. I knew from interviews that this guy had a penchant for swearing (as do I). So, I snapped another picture of the bouquet and wrote “I didn’t fuck up as the maid of honor in my friend’s wedding. I know you won’t fuck up in your play.”
Not so much, I guess. I didn’t get a response back from that. See, the maddening thing about Snapchat is it tells you when someone has opened your post. I know it was opened and didn’t hear anything back. Did that mean I wasn’t as cool as I hoped? Did it fall on deaf ears? Did my terrible ability of shoving my foot in my mouth strike again? I decided to let my anxiety take over and fall back on my old celebrity mantra of “Don’t irritate the important person.” I never want to be a bother to anyone and that includes my favorite celebrity. Settling in, I enjoyed the car trip back home while singing Disney songs with my friends.
The following week, I decided to send some encouragement his way. There’s nothing wrong with rooting on someone, right? One of my three life rules is make two people smile a day. He could be one of my two people. On the Tuesday his play opened, I made a little sign wishing him a great opening night. Snapchat once again told me the post was opened. No response. The next day, I made another sign saying I hope things went well. Opened, but nothing back.
Was I doing this wrong? Was I even wrong to be sending these pictures at all? I could be invading his privacy which was my fear of Snapchat in the first place! I didn’t want to be that kind of fan. This wasn’t what I wanted at all. I just wanted…
What did I want? I think every fan at some point dreams of at least being friends with their favorite celebrity if not more. If anything, I wanted to know that I was important in this person’s life in some way. Everyone wants to feel important especially when it comes to someone influential to them. I went through a few abusive relationships. Because of that, I’ve chosen not to date for five years. I needed to learn to be happy with myself before I could be happy with someone else. It was a character this particular actor played that showed me you could be incredibly flawed and still find love. It moved me on a deep level where I felt like I could start dating again if the right person came along. If anything, I wanted to show this actor how special he was to me as a thank you.
But Lord, Snapchat is frustrating! I sent a few more posts and always saw they were opened, but NO RESPONSES. What was wrong with me? How could I be so bad at this app? I had to be doing it wrong. Or maybe I wasn’t important and never would be. Maybe I wasn’t special like I thought.
One night, I sat in the middle of my room staring at my phone. I felt terrible bothering him in this way. I was the worst person ever. And I cried. I cried so hard, because I must have invaded in a way I never meant to. I had to be burning bridges that weren’t ever there. I feared at this point they would never be there.
I didn’t sleep that night. I stared at the ceiling wondering how I could be so stupid to let this little app with a smiling ghost destroy me so much. If I learned anything in five years of being single, I would never let another man ever hurt me again. This time, it wasn’t physical hits. It wasn’t being taken advantage of in bed. This was an emotional pain, and one I hadn’t felt in a very long time. My mom always said you shouldn’t make mountains out of molehills, and I was making Mount Everest out of a social media app. I was also doing something I hated when other fans did:
I was sticking this guy up on a pedestal.
That’s the thing about celebrities. We tend to idolize them. Their lives are way more glamorous with their money, lavish dinners, and living comfortably in massive houses. It’s a dream we all have and most will never reach that point. We either want to be them or know them. So when they actually answer our tweets, Facebook posts, or Snaps, we feel special. It’s a perk in this new social media age, but it’s also a terrible curse if you don’t logically think it over. It’s nice when anyone acknowledges you. This actor writing me back is no different than a coworker buying me a cup of coffee. In both cases, people are taking time out of their day for you, and that’s equally special. I’ve learned from my time working in the theatre and through podcasting that celebrities are people doing a job. Yeah, it’s a really cool job, but they’re people in the end showing up for work to provide for their families. I realized that my favorite actor was no different.
I’ve stepped away from Snapchatting him. I’ve only chatted with friends since that sleepless night. Sure, I see that the actor has posted a few things since then. I haven’t written back to him, because I don’t need him to feel special. I have a fantastic family. I have wonderful friends. I even have a cool job in a comic book store.
I think in the end, I won the Snapchat war.
Hope set out into the world to be a Pokemon Coordinator. When she realized that Pokemon were not real, she pursued her other passion: writing. Hope was raised in fandoms and saw how they can help save the world from her work with The Harry Potter Alliance. Now, she works to bring that love into writing one article at a time. She's also a diehard Atlanta Braves fan, so don't diss her team.