why i don’t follow people i will likely never meet (including pop stars and movie actors)

for most of my life i have been very clear with myself and with others about intentionally removing pop stars from my sphere of care. not that i don’t care about them as people, but i have little interest in following along in their personal affairs. this baffles many of my friends. they genuinely can’t understand why i still don’t know the difference between leonardo dicaprio and hugh jackman.

i’ve always said that i don’t follow pop stars because i would rather know my neighbors. i would rather save brain space for information about people who personally care about me and whom i care about.

recently, i learned about dunbar’s number (in my post about being over-networked). i also have learned (probably from an episode of onbeing, though i can’t remember which one) that our brains don’t differentiate between digital relationships and face-to-face relationships. finally, i know from personal experience that social media and ubiquitous computing (via cell phones) now allow us to follow the lives of pop stars minute by minute if we want.

all of this to me points to one really terrible conclusion: closely following the lives of pop stars and media figures literally limits the number of intimate connections we can have. our brains actually can’t hold more than a certain number of faces and relationships. for every pop star that someone follows intimately, that’s one less person they can be close with in their actual community.

so now i feel justified in my approach to just not give a fuck about who got married to who in 1998. i don’t want to know the names of that movie star’s kids. i want to save my brain space for people who live in my community (wendell berry style).