Monday, November 16, 2009

The Empty Pursuit of Fame

In this era of reality TV, advertisements and social medias , attention is a scarcity and people are competing ferociously for their share of fame and recognition. In the recent "balloon boy" case, parents willingly employ their own child to promote their popularity. It seems to me that people will not vacillate to legalize all means to gain fame; from performing the silliest act in "30 seconds to fame", broadcasting the daily struggle of raising eight Gosselins, and to staging a "six-year-old boy in a balloon" drama. All for the sake of winning people's wow, simply that - to bring a faint of self-worth into their bland dull life.

The need to be loved and recognized is a basic human trait; it is evident in each and every stage of humans' life. A baby hollers desperately to get his parents' attention, a high school student engineers a rebellion by failing his class, a college sophomore gets himself in a brawl to impress girls, a business owner donates his money to create media buzz. Each stage has its own weapon of choice, but the more people grow intellectually, the more insidious it becomes. Humans are innately the master of manipulation, and our boot camp starts even when we barely able to talk.

Is it wrong then to want to be recognized? I believe the answer is a resounding no. But when people will go to such length to satisfy their hunger for fame, it becomes an acute unquenchable obsession which if left untreated will start to redefine their self-esteem. And this incident simply shows what direction our current society is going: a celebrity-obsessed narcissistic culture.

That is why we are so obsessed with putting our latest pictures on Facebook, we peruse all blog posts on "getting more followers on Twitter", we have our own self-portrait or caricature, and we even Google ourselves. Yes, we want our existence to be affirmed, and we define our self-esteem based on useless opinions - how many facebook friends and twitter followers we have? How many people view our youtube video or blog?

Personally, I think we have to remember that people's opinion should never dictate our own evaluation of self-esteem. The impulse for fame will always be there, but I think we should master the art of controlling it and refuse to accept the delusion that it creates; self-worth should never be measured using a popularity contest from a bunch of unknown "voters".

I highly doubt that people will find true joy from having thousands of impersonal comments on their video. Would that really make you happy? For me, I believe that I am worth more than even millions of comments or followers, and I am just going to live my life freely without having to obsess over who's gonna like me or who's paying attention. Hey, my life is still a great drama, with or without camera around.