Wanna be famous? You aren’t alone. In a 2007 study, Yalda Uhls found that many Americans value fame far more than they did back in 1967. When asked to rank their top values, participants placed individualistic values such as fame, achievement and financial success at the top while collectivistic values like community and tradition fell to the bottom. Many attribute this change to the ever increasing presence of entertainment media in our lives. Turn on the TV, and there’s American Idol showing you how any old schmuck off the street can be a platinum recording artist, there’s E! News giving you a glimpse into the lives of the rich and the famous and there’s Hannah Montana teaching our children that even kids have a chance at fame.
It’s not just television either. With the exponential growth of the Internet and content sharing sites like Youtube and Facebook, anyone can get their voices heard. You no longer need an agent and countless auditions to become a superstar, as long as you have a webcam and a high speed internet connection, you can become the next Justin Bieber. The world is now your audience and these websites are now your stage.
Of course, the chances of Internet fame are very slim. Just because you can share your thoughts, ideas and creativity with the world, doesn’t mean anyone is actually listening. It doesn’t take much effort to share on the Internet. Most of the time there are no editors or executives denying your speech. Because of this, much of the user made content on the web is garbage and it takes a lot of weeding through to find the good stuff. Although the chance for fame hasn’t increased over the years, our drive for it has. The close proximity to celebrities due to our ever connected world makes it seem like fame is easily attainable but those who try, often fail and instead of blaming the system, they blame themselves, leading to a society with high levels of depression and eating disorders.
My suggestion for those striving for fame: switch out those individualistic values for communitarian ones. Instead of watching YouTube, do a Google search of different community volunteer opportunities. Turn off TMZ and go see what the neighbors are up to. Although these activities won’t be seen by the masses, they should still have importance in our every day lives.