Most of us are familiar with the story of Peter denying Jesus when questioned after Jesus’ arrest: “I do not know the man,” he replied not just once or twice, but three times, trying to distance himself from the seriousness of the situation.
Would Peter’s reaction be different in today’s instant-fame-fueled culture?
“Weren’t you with that man Jesus?”My July 31 post mentioned the seeming trend of people falsely attaching themselves to tragic events, getting their name in print or being interviewed on TV or even possibly selling their story to the highest bidder.
”Yup! I sure was! Had dinner with him just last night in fact. Check it out: I posted pics on facebook and tweeted about it, too. It’s trending so hard right now. I’ve got a bazillion retweets since the arrest.
Hey, if you know of any news organizations looking for a good story, I’ve got the inside scoop! For a price, of course!”
The quest for fame seems to be on the increase, possibly fueled by our celebrity-focused culture. (Why do we have awards show after awards show for entertainers but not for those who serve: teachers, military, police, fire and emergency personnel, etc.? What is it that we truly value?) Studies show decided increases in young people who aspire to be famous, often without any hard work or talent involved in the quest. They see people getting their own TV shows for no good reason (teen moms, reality TV, big brother, bachelors with multiple women to find “true love”) and think “Why not me? They’re famous and have no talent or skill; I can do the same thing.”
There are seven traits classically associated with narcissism: authority, entitlement, exhibitionism, exploitativeness, self-sufficiency, superiority, and vanity. One study found that the percentage of young people classified as narcissistic (30%) has doubled in the last 30 years. (What happened to humility and Andy Griffith types?) Another study reported a 40% decline in empathy in young people. Our youth are bombarded with messages about self-involvement, entitlement, vanity and fame and the rich rewards of being famous: TV shows, money, houses, cars, vacations, fabulous parties and their pictures in every tabloid.
So what do we truly value? My granddaughter’s summer reading list includes Fahrenheit 451. The assignment summary describes it as about a society where the trivial is valued above the truth, where out-of-context factoids are more widely dispensed over information and knowledge. I sometimes feel we could be headed in that direction, where bread and circuses are fed as entertainment to the masses, numbing them into complacency and acceptance of these disturbing trends.
I’m thankful there are many hard-working, intelligent young people in society who are not lured by this siren’s song of fame and narcissism; young people who are studying and volunteering with humility and caring, who don’t seek to attach themselves to events that might get them on the evening news. These are the people, though, who should be celebrated, whose stories should be told. Humility should be a trait we value above narcissistic self-involvement.
Have Media Created a Generation of Narcissists? - http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/media-creates-narcissists-0113121/
Narcissism: On the Rise in America? - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-jim-taylor/narcissism-america_b_861887.html
The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism is Seducing America - http://www.amazon.com/The-Mirror-Effect-Narcissism-ebook/dp/B001NLKWVM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1344309025&sr=8-2&keywords=the+mirror+effect