A click is all one needs to publish something unto the internet. Clay Shirky describes this process in Publish Then Filter (See here). One can define user-generated content as the ways users create and share media with each other with no professional skills involved. User-generated content is everywhere, in fact, I’m doing it right now. I am not a professional, and neither are a majority of bloggers. Like Shirky says, most user-generated content is geared at a small audience, so we might not find the content of the blog appealing (Shirky 84). To be famous, Shirky says that one must have an audience in thousands or more and unable to reciprocate all the attention given to them. The definition fits most of the general populace who can sometimes be defined as ‘internet-famous’. However, this new fame status given to the general citizen promotes mediocrity.
Shirky states that we have generally relied on publishers to determine the standards of quality (Shirky 97). However, the internet and the digital age has changed that. No longer does one need a publisher’s approval to publish anything. Professionals who were once prided on their skills are now on the same level as a simple teenage blogger. The internet essentially has got rid of the qualifications to become famous or a ‘professional’. Before the internet, you had to cultivate your skills, and work your way up in an industry. Now you can publish anything online, or create things that were specialized. Because of that, being famous has lost its meaning. Anyone can have a thousand followers these days, and be unable to interact with their fans. Like Shirky says, mass amateurization of publishing makes makes mass amateurization of filtering a forced move (Shirky 98). Traditional media had limits to make filtering relatively easy (Shirky 97). Now we must filter the professional from the novice, and with so much content on the web, it is a hard job. Without publishers or the equivalent, the general person must decide on the quality of something. The general person would not know criteria a publisher would know. So their judgement would be impaired compared to a publisher. This is how the internet promotes mediocrity. One can simply pretend to know how to do something, or do sub-par work, and as long as you impress people, you are famous. Take for example, the Kardashians who many consider to be models of this (Source). If you do not know who the Kardashians are, click here. The internet has transformed society to a point where our standards of quality and sense of what famous is has changed. Before, nobody would consider Youtubers celebrities (See here). But because of the internet, that’s a different story. Youtubers are now becoming more influential than Hollywood celebrities (Source). Have we really considered how the internet has managed to bring about a different type of celebrity? I think not. The internet has now brought new qualifications to be famous to be a celebrity. The restrictions of the old media have been lifted, and anything is fair game. Nobody has to have qualifications anymore to do a majority of jobs or to be considered famous. Now the internet has lowered the bar, and brought society to the height of mediocrity.