Do we, as a society, think that being famous is the most important thing in the world? Sometimes, it seems like that!
The term ‘celebrity culture’ implies that there’s something childish and almost demeaning about the need to her-worship a famous person that we don’t know. It can almost seem passive and inferior, making us look inadequate and have chosen escapism to avoid other part of our lives.
However, surely fame itself isn’t always a bad thing – without famous people we wouldn’t always be aware of charitable causes that need our donations and help and without actors who are famous we’d miss some great theatre and art.
Maybe there’s an impulse to admire others that we don’t actually know and certainly, when I work on self-esteem with clients, I encourage them to have a role model, someone they admire, who might or might not be famous but has attributes of confidence, vitality and sociability that they might try to emulate in a positive way.
However, on the down side, most of us have read or heard about celebrities who wish that they could just go shopping for groceries without being recognised and it often seems that they experience loss of self and even a mistrust of those people around them.
From the perspective of someone who’s feeling lonely or doesn’t get enough recognition from their families or partner, thousands of strangers online can fill that space and with social media and online forums, that’s easily done. Chasing fame can also seem a way to achieve wealth in a way that wouldn’t usually be possible, particularly if someone comes from a poor background where there’s a poverty of expectation.
There’s also a side to our culture where we love to see famous people fail – we tend to treat celebrities as if they’re part of a soap opera and pore over their successes but more importantly for some, their failures, comebacks and sudden deaths. We’re able to do this now because everything is online and we can get a new episode hourly on an endless basis.
However, when 51 percent of 18 to 25 year olds polled think that they will be famous one day, what does that say about our society? Television targets children and places more value on fame than in previous decades. But surely we need to stop obsessing about it and wasting lives on dreams that can’t be fulfilled?
There’s nothing wrong with having ambition and goals – achieving short-term goals leading to bigger goals and achievements is a great thing to help people with self-esteem and it’s something I work on a lot with clients. Part of that is setting realistic goals, otherwise people can dip down into feeling anxious and depressed because they can’t achieve what they set out to do.
Basing your life on what celebrities do, or appear to do, wanting to dress like them and be in the public eye isn’t realistic for most of us and doesn’t guarantee happiness by any means.