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Fridays in February: Post-Paris Hilton

Upstart editor Tom Cowie returns to the keyboard in 2010 with a new column entitled 'Fridays in February'. Today he takes aim at Facebook and the ever-evolving cult of celebrity.

People love being told they look like a celebrity. It’s like some validation of them as a person, that they actually matter (despite any comment made merely being a confirmation of the coincidences of genetics).

Personally, I get told I resemble FM radio star Hamish Blake, a comparison that has been made on numerous occasions.

Unfortunately, I don’t get told I’m as funny as Hamish, simply that we share the same haircut and a similar inability to grow a decent beard (instead we both proudly sport our wispy wanna-stubble).

This week, Facebook has become a litany of look-alikes as people rush to change their profile pictures to a celebrity that they have been told – or in some cases, think – that they resemble.

It is all part of ‘doppelgänger week’, a trend where people reveal their famous doubles, and everyone seems to be in on it.

In a world where egotism was already rampant, people are now taking their inner narcissist one step further, not only revealing their every waking thought (‘Tom just had an AMAZING sandwich’) but their believed celebrity similitude as well.

Suddenly, there are people on Facebook insinuating that they look like Patrick Swayze, Matt Damon and Ashley Judd (come on, get real.)

I know a lot of people would call me a wowser for not joining in, that the whole thing is a just bit of fun and it may just be that. But does ‘doppelgänger week’, reveal something deeper about our fetish for celebrity?

Perhaps we have progressed beyond the hunt for our own fifteen minutes/seconds of fame and are instead willing to absorb someone else’s.

In 2010, instead of auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance?, we simply jump on the coattails of movie stars, in the process telling ourselves that the likeness is more than skin deep.

This could be the dawn of post-Paris Hiltonism where we no longer crave fame, we just tell ourselves that we already possess it.

The fact that no one actually cares about our lives is a minor triviality, as long as we act like a celebrity to our Facebook friends.

It’s why so many Facebook users cultivate their status updates and photos with the kind of PR spin that would make a gossip mag proud.

Trends such as ‘doppelgänger week’ will inevitably spell the death throes of Facebook as a social networking giant. More and more people will switch off, frustrated with the ever-increasing insignificance, narcissism and bullshit.

The reason people sign up to Facebook – and all social networking sites, for that matter – is to be in constant contact with our peers.

Now all we get is a dull New Idea-like news feed, where nothing is everything and everything is nothing.

And I guess all social networking sites will fall this way in the end. It’s what happened to MySpace and will probably befall Twitter.

Anyway I’m off, apparently there’s a new trend in town. It’s ‘Urban Dictionary week’ on Facebook.

You know what they say; if you’re not first, you’re last.

Tom Cowie is the editor of upstart.

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