I’m not happy to report this, but for the past couple days, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about John Mayer’s private parts.
And I know I’m not alone. The web has been abuzz with the outtakes of his instantly infamous Playboy interview.
I’ll refrain from analyzing too deeply the particulars of what he said, from describing Jessica Simpson as “sexual napalm” (which sounds like a nickname for the world’s most extreme STD) to explaining that his “dick is sort of like a white supremacist” (I’ve always thought of mine as being at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement).
This latest interview, coupled with his thousands of Tweets to his three million followers, might have thrust John Mayer into the spotlight as the ultimate poster child for Generation TMI.
He shares and shares and overshares. We know about his relationships, his sexual preferences (alone seems to be the big winner here) and far too much about his general, unfiltered thoughts on any number of issues.
Twitter and other sharing avenues are potentially empowering or debilitating for modern celebrities. On one hand, they get to own their brand and manage their relationship with the public one letter at a time. Building up a massive following can be a benefit during contract negotiations, etc. On the other hand, there is a decent chance that this direct line to one’s adoring public can become addicting and damage a celebrity’s personal brand. Earlier this week I asked my friend Mordy what he thought of the John Mayer controversy. He answered, “I’m not sure I know who that is. Isn’t he the guy who called his dick a white supremacist?”
One could argue that Mayer is a celebrity and that any publicity is good. But I wonder, especially after the above exchange, if that’s necessarily true. Mayer has, tweet by tweet, overshare by overshare, demoted himself to a sort of reality TV star whose unedited regurgitation of his every inner-thought is his only real selling point. He’s gone from being known as a hyper-talented guitarist and singer to being little more than an un-glorified Jersey Shore cast member who went too far. Compared to this guy, Snookie and The Situation are incredibly reserved.
Now, faced with the explosion of criticism about his Playboy interview, Mayer has responded the only way he knows how. More tweets.
And let’s be honest. John Mayer is not alone. Many of us are addicted to oversharing on the web. But as Mayer is learning all to well, this sharing can have consequences.
At one point during his interview, Mayer explained that masturbation is “like a vacation—my brain gets to go free. It’s a walk in the park for my brain. Pull the shades and let your mind go without having to answer for it.”
Oversharing is the opposite. While the brain is allowed to go free, the shades are up, you do have to answer for it and it sure isn’t a walk in the park.