I am sure she wasn’t the first but she was the one that sticks in my mind. Over the years I am sure there have been other examples of the phenomenon but Paris Hilton epitomises the concept. Famous for being famous. Most ‘famous’ people have achieved something of note – or notoriety – and become famous as a result of that. Think of household names such as Elon Musk (Tesla and PayPal); Mark  Zuckerberg (Facebook); Bill Gates (Microsoft); Larry Page (Google) and the late Steve Jobs (Apple). They have all created something significant and become famous as a result of their work. Outside of technology you could list Barack Obama; Usain Bolt; Tom Cruise; Paul McCartney; J.K. Rowling; Oprah Winfrey and many more. They are all extraordinarily talented people who have become famous as a result of hard work and using those talents.

Then we have Paris Hilton.

Her significant achievement, it would seem, was to be born. It just so happened that her great-grandfather was Conrad Hilton, the founder of Hilton Hotels. With no lack of finances, she became what is known as a celebutante – she was the focus of enough media attention and public interest that she became regarded as a celebrity. I suppose that in itself is an achievement when you consider that Paris became famous before we had social media like we have today but now we see many people using social media in the same way Paris used her wealth. And it has just gone to the next level.

A Chinese University has started offering classes for people who want to become Internet famous. The culture in China is known as ‘wanghong’ or ‘Internet famous’ and to enrol in wanghong classes means you will learn how to dress fashionably; apply makeup; recognise luxury brands and, of course, perform in front of a camera. The wanghong students are easy to spot – they are the ones walking around campus holding a selfie stick seemingly talking to themselves but, of course, they are talking to their ever-growing list of followers hoping to build the numbers to a level that major brands will want to use their channel to market a product. Students are switching from more traditional majors such as accounting and legal studies to a major in wanghong. Even though I am not aware of anywhere else in the world offering University classes in how to become famous via the Internet, the activity is occurring everywhere you turn. There was the incident this week when an Algerian man held his baby over a balcony and posted the picture with the threat “1,000 likes or I’ll drop him” hoping that his radical approach would make him famous. It achieved part of his outcome – he is now known as the man who was arrested for endangering his child.

The most subscribed YouTube channel in the world is a simple channel called PewDiePie which features Swede Felix Kjellberg playing video games and commenting as he plays. He is not a world champion gamer and doesn’t offer super hidden secrets in his games. He just plays and comments. It doesn’t sound like much but 55 million subscribers converts into a multi-million dollar monthly income just for playing video games. It makes it sound a bit hollow when I tell my teenage son to stop playing video games and do some real study!

This is just scratching the surface. Daniel Middleton has 14.9 million subscribers who watch him review video games. Roman Atwood has 12.6 million subscribers who watch him post updates about his daily life. The list goes on. Forget about finding your talent and working hard for years to succeed using your talent – just start a YouTube channel! I suppose that in itself is a talent. I will be interested to see how long before Universities in Australia start offering the equivalent of wanghong courses.

App of the Week is Meditapes. You can use this app to create your own relaxing sounds to improve sleep and stay calm (or so it is claimed). After Wednesday night’s performance, I think the NSW State of Origin team used Meditapes at halftime!

Mathew Dickerson

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