Your 15 Minutes of . . . Anonymity

AnonymityIn 1968 Andy Warhol said, “In the future everybody will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.”

How right he was. Reality TV, YouTube, Facebook, blogs and all the other forms of media–social or otherwise–have give us all unprecedented access to, well, the world. And in a lot of ways it’s wonderful.

But I’m beginning to think that maybe its time to overhaul that quote to something like: “In the future everybody will crave anonymity for even fifteen minutes.” To be disconnected–to be completely out of the world’s eye–may become much more elusive than a few moments of “fame.”

Recently, 60 Minutes did a segment about facial recognition software. It’s come a long, long way. Cameras in manikins in department stores record your movements–what did you look at first? Which items drew your attention as you moved through the store? Now that the marketers know, they can send targeted ads to your in-box or your Facebook page. Because your photo is on your Facebook page.

And now that they’ve looked at Facebook, they know what pages you’ve liked. What products you’ve mentioned. What purchases you might have made. There’s even an app for that. Facedeals is a system where you walk through the door of a business and a camera, with your permission, recognizes you, looks at your likes and offers a deal tailored just for you. Say you walk into a restaurant using Facedeals–it sees you “liked” diet Coke and it offers you a free Coke with your next purchase.

Of course, as an author, I want people to recognize me. And my face is part of my brand. But I have to admit, I find all this a little unnerving. And I can imagine there might come a day when I crave–not recognition–but a healthy dose of being anonymous.

4 thoughts on “Your 15 Minutes of . . . Anonymity

  1. I’ve actually been recognized in my town from my newspaper work. Most of the time, it’s fun. Sometimes, the sneers can be un-nerving. But, whatever, that is reality. Also, my husband is a fairly well known hockey coach in town, so hockey parents do come up to either just me, or both of us, and chat. So, I am aware of that SLIGHT, S-L-I-G-H-T amount of “aren’t you…?” when I go out. So I try to put a smile on my face and act like Jesus wants me to act.

  2. Great point, Sarah. Sometimes I do want to disconnect permanently from the whole social platform thing. But in this day and age, authors really can’t afford to be like Emily Dickinson, all hermit-ish and alone. I look at it this way–we are bringing attention, through our books, to time periods/locales/people groups that might otherwise be overlooked. Also, our messages will reach people. So we can stand behind THOSE, even if we don’t feel so great having our faces out for all to see all the time!

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