In the New York Times last week, Ben Brantley wrote an article entitled Among Celebrities, Mystery’s Not Fashionable; his premise was that celebrities aren’t allowed to live private lives thanks to professional and amateur paparazzi as well as their need to promote themselves as a brand. How true! And unfortunately it’s not only celebrities that lack mystery. It’s everyone these days.
The instantaneousness of knowledge thanks to social media has lulled us into believing that every aspect of our lives needs to be chronicled, written about, photographed and dissected. Readers of fashion blogs want to know what shampoo the blogger uses, and where they were when they took the picture, and where they went for lunch with friends. And for celebrities, we google their names and are instantly gratified with every tidbit about them thanks to wikipedia and imdb.
While, I’ll admit, I’m not totally opposed to the sharing of some of this information. If you have a hair routine that works well, or bought an amazing belt at a local thrift shop why shouldn’t you share that with the world? But I see two serious problems with the overarching lack of mystery today.
One: we no longer appreciate mystery in the world around us. The sunset, for example, is meant to be photographed and blogged about, but not awed at. We snap a picture of it on our iPhone and set it as our backdrop. But looking at it doesn’t draw the human person to think of deeper topics or higher ideals.
Two: we think we have a right to all knowledge about a person. We hear a song on the radio and our curiosity has us looking up the singers past on wikipedia and delving into every detail about their childhood, relationships, etc… Super market tabloids fly off the shelf because we want to know the details, we think we have the right to know who broke up with who and what the fight was about. But really, who are we to pry in the lives of others?