Fame without fortune? That is like wine without cheese or peanut butter without jelly.
Not many will ever see their fifteen minutes of fame, and doubtless, no one wants to suffer enough socio-personal loss to gain infamy that lasts a little while longer. But what of those who are finding their six-seconds of fame on social media outlets such as Vine?
Vine is a mobile application owned by Twitter that enables its users to create and post short video clips. The service was introduced with a maximum clip length of six seconds, and can be shared or embedded on social networking services.
An estimated 40 million Vine accounts have been registered. And while it is unclear how many of those accounts are being used, the numbers are undoubtedly astronomical.
Vine users with catchy, trendy, meaningful or outright funny messages go viral at the touch of a button.
Take Landon Romano, a nineteen-year old freshman at the University of Mississippi, for example. His videos spread like wildfire on the application, and he has a steady 350,000 followers. A typical post earns him tens of thousands of likes. He is, therefore, "Vine famous." Which is about as self explanatory as it comes: You become a celebrity to the viewers who tune in several times a day to see what is going to be posted next.
"I did not become Vine famous until my first day of classes," Romano says during our interview. "A friend, who is also Vine famous, 're-vined' me, and apparently people liked what they saw."
It will not appear in the dictionary, but being "re-vined" is a big deal, at least in the world of social media. Akin to being re-blogged, shared and retweeted -- one's followers can grow by tens of thousands in a millisecond if their videos are catchy.
In the case of Romano, his skits are raw and plainly funny to see. He has successfully incorporated terms such as: "Write it down," "Hold up, back it up, park it," and "I'm going home." Most, if not all of his mini-videos are the meanderings of a college student and sharp as a razor.
While watching his Vines, it is hard not to both laugh and lambaste his candor. He says all the things a person would say who has lost their proverbial filter. Using the parlance of college, his thesis is delivered and supported within a mind-blowing six-seconds.
Besides being a no-holds-barred personality on Vine, he says he has helped many others come out of the closet, and to terms with their sexuality.
"It has been pretty neat to have other guys reach out to me on how best to come out," he says.
As Generation X ages, and we are finding grey hair popping up in our five o'clock shadows, Romano and his viral video cohorts represent the future of our nation. Not unlike my generation, which saw the blossoming of the Internet and the proliferation of cell phone use, Romano's era is marked by platforms such as Vine, Facetime, Twitter, Facebook and other technology that broadcast to the masses at a touch of a button.
Ever the animated character, Landon lies in bed as he speaks to me via Skype. The image I see is one of a man who is comfortable talking with strangers about his life.
Like an old shoe that fits, what you see is what you get. Landon is home after completing his first semester in college and enjoying his rambunctious family, who could be heard in the background during our Skype interview.
"My family is so loud," Landon says with a smile on his face. His personality exudes a kind of confidence mingled with sincerity, that I have found rare in this world.
Home, as Landon says, "is a very complicated thing." He stops short of saying that it is stressful. His parents divorced when he was five years old, so having two sets of families and different states to visit them in has been a source of amusement for the young freshman. This is the positive outlook he seems to embody: He was not devastated over the divorce of his parents.
Where social media is concerned, he admittedly spends a little too much time with it and it frustrates those close to him.
"My parents and boyfriend are sometimes bothered that I spend so much time on my phone. But I think they understand," Romano says. "There are so many people who interact with me, it is only right that I reciprocate."
Before he hit it big on Vine, he had a wide and diverse circle of friends. Now he gets noticed in public.
During Black Friday shopping in Victoria's Secret with a friend, so many people wanted photographs with him that the store manager had to ask him to leave due to a rule that photos were not allowed within the establishment.
"Now that was unreal," Landon said staring squarely into the camera. "I am just a little, old nobody, and now it is hard to go out in public without someone noticing me. I mean I go to college in Mississippi, there is nothing exciting about that." As he completed his last sentence, he looked into the camera with a far away gaze. Perhaps, I thought to myself, he thinks that his state was closer to the Moon than, lets say, Florida. Living in Greensboro, North Carolina, I got what he was trying to say.
When asked if any of his popularity has translated into money, the smile comes back. However it is not the grin of someone greedy. Landon has been approached by two agencies who want him to do advertisements, but for now his reply has been a respectful no.
"Right now, I am just doing this for the fun of it," Romano says. "I like entertaining people."
Over 350,000 of his followers agree.