Moral crises for online celebrities – a reason to celebrate?

Back in August I wrote about FOBO the Fear of Being Offline, in which I identified the acronym APOL: addiction, peer-pressure, obsession, and loneliness.

Some of these aspects (addiction and peer-pressure especially) perniciously affect our youth, with addictions and peer pressure leading to ‘following’ – not only of online profiles, but also the behaviours and lifestyles, consumption, and branding that is dished out by the current crop of online celebrities.

In the news at the moment however, is evidence to support the statement that “people are starting to self-regulate” and the more high profile this evidence, the wider the debate is that ensues. In online-driven communication: debate = momentum.

An Australian teenager with more than 612,000 Instagram followers of her lifestyle and beauty profile “radically rewrites her ‘self-promoting’ history on social media” (Guardian, 2015) following unsubstantiated reports that she has had a ‘crisis of conscience’ following and emotional breakdown.

What then, is the ‘rationalisation’ for Lady Gaga’s recent comments in a talk she gave at Yale University (Business Insider, 2015) recently when she spoke of ‘feeling sad…just a money-making machine…passion and creativity taking a back seat’ and of social media that “we’re not actually communicating with each other. We are unconsciously communicating lies”.

Whereas it can and is being said in some circles that crises of integrity and morals are just the ‘price to be paid for choices made’ in pursuit of fame (on the internet or otherwise), if the internet turbocharges some opportunities for fame – it also provides the channel to chart subsequent reactions away from the lure and consequences of that fame.

Debate = momentum.

Whilst it is uncomfortable viewing anyone unravelling online – to any extent (think Britney Spears and the head-shaving incident) it provides us with the necessary evidence and reality check that what we are presented with online is not necessarily real.

The Capable Manager teaching online profiling, employability, and social media in Holland

The Capable Manager teaching online profiling, employability, and social media in Holland

I write this sitting in a classroom in France whilst the students engage in activities over an entire week that deeply questions Authority and Volume sources of information on Sustainable Trade and Development. Over the week they work with models and theories that stimulates their questioning of what we accept as ‘truth’ because it has been written or presented to us by others. The aim is a deepening of students’ critical thinking and individual knowledge in support of the life they will go on to lead.

The Australian Instagrammer has now reconstituted her ‘self-promoting and branding’ profiles in a new site stating that it is “aimed to inspire constant QUESTIONING”. In one move, she is modelling one of the most important roles that we must hold as educators, yet we often fail to embed in our teaching.

We may get a little star-struck sometimes, swept up in fads and fancies, but overall – we have it within us to question, analyse, and act. In the very least we should expect at University to engage in this as a primary activity.

Debate = momentum.


Business Insider (2015) Lady Gaga discovered how to be happy when she started saying one word a lot more often [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4th November 2015]

Guardian (2015), Essena O’Neill quits Instagram claiming social media ‘is not real life’ [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4th November 2015]

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