Internet Fame Explained By Expert

If there were no evolutionary benefit to fame, no one would chase it—or certainly not as doggedly as they do now. To be well-known gives many people (perhaps most people?) pleasure, and generally things that give us pleasure have their roots in something that at one point helped us. There could be no other reason for the proliferation and (exponentially accelerating) mass obsession with fame.
That's Star Editor-at-Large Julia Allison, offering her thoughts on "dynamic fame"—the way the Internet has "created" its own insta-micro-celebs.

Professor Allison explains that people crave fame for its benefits ("the adulation, the sense of false familiarity, the reassurance that people you don't know personally will treat you well and help you out when you need something"), but sounds a note of caution on the new, low barrier to entry web-aided variety ("the anarchy which, at its most delusional, believes itself to be a meritocracy").

Prior to the internet, your options for achieving fame were as follows: acting, athletics, politics, royalty or sure, you could get a little attention by killing a few people in a dramatic way. Other than that, you were probably doomed to the dim twilight that knows neither MySpace nor YouTube.

Now, on the other hand, you need merely a T-1 line and a digital camera and three days from now, you could sit opposite Matt Lauer on the Today Show as 10 million people watch you give the director's commentary on your poorly lit, badly edited 3 minute viral video.

We're inclined to agree.

"Dynamic Fame" [Julia Allison]