According to the TIME Magazine Snapchat sank as much as 7.2 percent on 21 February, wiping out $1.3 billion in market value, on the heels of just one tweet from Kylie Jenner, who said she doesn’t open the app anymore. Jenner’s tweet follows the negative buzz around the app that is experiencing users’ negative reviews of the app’s recent redesign.
Jenner’s tweet is an excellent opportunity to once again raise the question of the broader social impact of celebrity culture. According to scholars Diana Seno and Bryan Lukas, the practice of celebrity endorsement dates back to the eighteen century when Josiah Wedgwood, the famed potter, was a pioneer in using celebrities to his advantage. During the 1960s German philosopher, Max Weber argued that a celebrity might be a possible source of power and social influence over others. Weber further reminds us that before we had celebrities we had heroes and celebrities today have entirely superseded heroism. However, as David Marshall asserts, the celebrity is one who is ‘famous’ or is a ‘well-known person’ whereas well-knownness may involve a more extensive section of the population, serving as a metaphor for value in modern society. According to Kerry Ferris, one of the most prevalent themes in sociological and other social science work on fame and celebrity is that of pathology, i.e., that being a celebrity in contemporary society does not require talent, skills, intelligence or else. Ellis Cashmore further argues that famous people have become products themselves, i.e., commodities of trade that can be bought and sold in a marketplace. Cashmore further accentuates that society became preoccupied with famous people whom we endow with great meaning though without really reflecting on why.
Nevertheless, in the digital era (or so-called ‘social era of celebrity’), celebrities hold a high power in their hands, and tweets like Jenner’s are just a reminder of how quickly a company’s/brand’s financial equity might be harmed by one.