Royal Baby Hype Sheds Light on an Ugly Online Trend

Posted on July 24, 2013

Yes, it’s official.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have welcomed their little bundle of joy into this world. And at just two days old, George Alexander Louis is already an international media sensation.

The hashtag #RoyalBaby has been circulating all week, and now #GeorgeAlexanderLouis and #PrinceGeorge have started to make the rounds.

Blissfully unaware, the little prince has no concept of how many times his picture has been shared by complete strangers or how intimate details of his birth have been broadcast live and uninterrupted for the past 48 hours.

The privacy of members of the Royal Family, especially children, has always been a hot button issue in Britain. But how has this issue been compounded by the ever-growing reach of the internet?

Commentators are starting to wonder whether the wee lad can ever hope to have a normal childhood. And with his every move just waiting to be gushed about on Twitter, criticized on blogs or blown up by the press, perhaps this new level of social scrutiny will get us thinking about why we expect public figures – even those too young to speak (let alone give their consent) – to become fodder for our own entertainment.

There is a widespread assumption that people in the public eye are required to provide the masses with a constant flow of personal information. It used to be limited to interviews and press conferences, or the odd quote snapped on the way to the car, but now the pressure is on to get super social.

Personal photos must be posted on Instagram, Tweets detailing mundane events must be sent at an alarming frequency, candid video clips must be shared to show how “they” are just like “us”.

This trend of over-sharing is no longer an anomaly, it’s a public expectation.

Our need to soak up the details of Kate Middleton’s birth plan and speculate about her post-delivery dress has fueled a monstrous media marketplace intent on exposing and dissecting the most private of life experiences.

Why else would we expect a new mother to be trotted out in front of thousands of hysterical people less than 24 hours after giving birth?

Let’s take this chance to assess our mindless voyeurism and think about what every guilty click represents to the giant media machine whose only aim is to give us more of what we want.

photo credit: TM – the crocheteer via photopin cc

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