Keeping Up With The Pope

By: Regina McCormick, Julia Mulry, Kate Mazza, Hari Roth

The main points from the Alperstein essay on “Imaginary Social Relationships” was that the media spotlight seemed to focus on people because of some sort of accomplishment they made. Alperstein says that celebrities create illusions of intimacy and enable viewers to cultivate “imaginary social relationships” with the media figures. The production of a celebrity relies on the existence and exploitation of the channels of mass communications. The gap between a persons public image and their private life grew. The viewers only know what the audience told them. Also viewers follow celebrities for a source of entertainment. Two celebrities that we have chosen are Kim Kardashian and Pope Francis. They both have social media, like twitter and instagram, that people follow to keep up with their daily activities and posts. Unfortunately, Kim Kardashian has more followers than the Pope, meaning more people follow her pictures and twitter posts. 

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Both the Pope and Kim Kardashian are active Instagram and Twitter users.  Though they are drastically different figures promoting dissimilar messages, their use of social media catalyzes their fan communication.  The Pope is very cognizant of his multicultural following, and has accounts set up in several languages in order to easily and comfortably reach his followers.  This not only shows his understanding and support for multinational Catholicism, but allows for ready communication globally.  Kim Kardashian uses these platforms, as well.  However, Snapchat is prevalent in her means of mass communication, too.  Kim updates each of her social medias regularly to allow fans to live vicariously through her days.  Kim Kardashian and the Pope both use their social media pages in order to actively maintain relationships with their followers.

The social media styles of the Pope and Kim differ in obvious ways, including the community they outreach to. While the Catholic Church has an estimated population of about 1.2 billion, the Pope only has 10.5 M twitter followers in contrast to Kim’s 50.7M followers. While Kim asks followers for advice, such as protein shake recipes, the Pope offers spiritual and uplifting advice to followers. The Pope’s accounts reach out to all followers and act as a positive, uplifting media to help followers with their faith. This is very far from the way Kim’s accounts act as a social, fashion, and material models for followers.

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Without a doubt social media is the main key in creating and enabling these type of celebrity and fan relationships. The broad span and vast amount of people that it covers allows celebrities with a large fan base is unlike anything that has existed until recent years. Social media is very important to these relationships because it allows one to spread their message to all their “followers” at the click of a button. Without barely thinking celebrities can share an advertisement, thought, or even agenda that will be seen by millions and millions of people. These are the non-intricate relationships that are much more common with celebrities but some such as Kim Kardashian read through their interactions and sometimes personally respond to fans making her seem much more personable and like a real life friend. This does not happen as often as other tweets or comments but when it does it helps build her brand even further. The Pope on the other hand, uses social media differently. On twitter and Instagram he does not respond to his “fans” or followers directly at all. This can probably be attributed to the power and magnitude of his position and the fact that he probably does not run his social media accounts himself. However, just the fact that the Pope has social media accounts makes him appeal to younger audience and keeps the Church up with modern times. In conclusion the Pope and Kim Kardashian both use social media very differently but to their advantages as they try to grow their image, their brand, and their message.


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