When I was a teenager, I had a green ‘Fame’ shirt, which I loved.
I loved the colour, I loved the cut, but I loved most of all what it said.
Not just for the sake of fame, like Paris Hilton, but for doing something .
For being an exceptional person.
And to have greater opportunity to make the world a better place.
I think a lot of people can relate to that. Some won’t; there are those that are happy to work behind the scenes, and just do things quietly, so long as someone notices them.
Others of us crave the spotlight; the stage.
We want it all.
Yesterday as I was driving in the car, I overhead something on the radio about teenage values in the present day compared to in the past, and how social media played a part in the decline of moral values such as kindness, and community.
Having missed half the discussion because Bailey was chatting in the back seat, when I got home I decided to google it to see what the fuss was all about.
The study, was of course, American.
Most of them are.
For a period of 40 years, from 1967 to 2007, the department of psychology at the Unifverstiy of California, analysed the two most popular tween shows of the decade, to see how they influenced mainstream values. (For a much more accurate description, read here.)
In 2007, ten years later, fame was the number one most desired attribute. Followed by Image, Popularity, Achievement and Financial Success.
Community Feeling and Benevolence came in at 11th and 12th.
Now the radio put this down to the rise of Social Media, so I’m only assuming they were looking at a different study, as Facebook was only finding its feet back then, and Twitter…. Well was that even around?
You Tube definitely wasn’t the popularity making avenue it is today.
Now whilst this of course raises issues about the way our children are growing up, it made me take a good long look at myself.
Do I want to be popular?
Do I want to be famous?
Again, only if it’s for doing something.
Do I want to be kind?
All the time.
Do I want be a a community minded person, and put others first.
Am I willing, even in the slightest, to put my own achievements and goals ahead of the good of others?
I refuse to.
Give me fame yes.
But not at any cost.
But what is fame? Is it the number of Facebook friends or likers you have?
In the blogging world, that number is looked at pretty significantly. But 1000 likers does not necessarily translate into blog traffic. A ‘Liker’ is not always an engaged reader.
What about Twitter? Are those numbers important?
You don’t have to spend long on there to discover a lot of random people ‘following’ you. Most whom you will never interact with ever.
And You Tube? Well I guess there are a lot of hopefuls out there hoping they will be the next Justin Beiber, or HollyWood ‘rags to riches’ stories. Hey, even I live in hope that one day one of my crazy vlogs will go viral. But if it does, what then? Does that make me famous? And do I then have the freedom to walk all over all the little people who are obviously now less than me?
Is this, what we, as a society are aiming for?
What are we trying to prove? Is it just because we are so self focused, and intent on someone noticing who we are, that we walk around planning our next big thing, and we forget to see those around us, doing the exact same thing?
Because it seems to me, if we all just want to be noticed, maybe we could rectify the problem and get back to the basics of Benevolence and Community Feeling. Saying hello to the people we pass in the street. Being kind just for kindness sake.
Doing extraordinary things for ordinary people, because we believe they are extraordinary.
I don’t smile at everyone I see on the street. Sometimes I’m quite rude. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m an imperfect person.
But I try.
Over and over and over again.
And if it came to choosing kindness or choosing popularity…. Well for me it’s a no brainer.
What about you?
Do you think achievement, image, wealth and popularity is emphasised and encouraged more than kindness, generosity, and the well being of others?
And if so, what can we, as small, not-famous people do to change it?