Role models are a tricky subject. Celebrities and public figures dominate our Twitter news feeds and magazine covers. We can find their posters on our dorm room walls and their quotes on our Pinterest inspiration boards. But for some, it goes even further than that. There is a fine line between admiration and idolization, especially when it comes to celebrities. And that’s what scares me.
It’s frightening to think how much of someone’s time can be spent thinking about a celebrity. I don’t mean in the sense of having a crush on another person or even head-over-heels love. I’m talking about obsession. These are people, typically teenagers, who zero in on a particular boy band or actress and spend their days reading every interview, listening to every song and watching every episode. It consumes their lives, and it’s all they think about. It’s definitely not anyone’s place to say if this is right or wrong, but it still bothers me.
What bothers me the most is how needless it is. Fawning over a celebrity is not the only way we can fill our spare time. The time stolen by obsession can be filled with countless other things. Our potential is suffocated when we replace it with something unproductive and possibly destructive.
Technology is not exactly helping the situation, either. Smart phones and the Internet create ever-present tools for us to use to seek joy in the newest tweets from our celeb crush.
For the first time in history, we have a direct line of instant communication between ourselves and celebrities. We can send a tweet to Justin Timberlake and we know there’s a chance he’ll read it. If it’s clever or attention-grabbing, he might even respond. But is this where we should be looking for happiness? Should we be turning to a person who has never even met us and likely never will?
In 2013, Charlie O’Brien wrote an opinion piece for The Huffington Post Blog entitled, “Why ‘Fangirling’ in 2013 Makes Me Sad.” She wrote, “There is going to be a lost generation of teenage girls who missed the best years of their lives because they were too busy concentrating on someone else’s dream.” Her words have stuck with me. The situation she described is exactly what I fear is happening.
I’m not going to claim that I have never giggled over a boy band or geeked out over a movie. I’ve seen “the Lord of the Rings” trilogy more times than I can count, and I can dish out Disney trivia at the drop of a hat. I don’t even think there’s anything bad about having a role model. I admire Grace Kelly for her class, Jane Austen for her wit and Brad Pitt for his philanthropy. They have admirable qualities worthy of acknowledgement, but the notoriety should end there.
It seems like the idolization of celebrities is fulfilling some sort of void in us. We seek this kind of gratification in order to fill an internal empty space. Yet, I’d like to think that there are other options. Reading a book for fun, biking with a friend, learning how to play a sport, volunteering at an animal shelter—the possibilities are endless. However, they all involve taking the reins of your own life and pursuing your own goals.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the best way to spend our teenage years and our 20s is to lose ourselves in 24-hour escapism. However, I don’t think the escalating presence of technological innovations has pushed us to that point just yet. We still have opportunities in front of us.
There are still books to be written, planets to study, oceans to explore, people to love and ideas to discover. We have all the potential in the world and not a clue what our lives have in store for us. I can only hope that we don’t waste them on someone else’s dream.