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The Cost of Fame

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The Cost of Fame


I’ll take being liked, respected, hell – even influential if I’ve done enough to make people’s lives better in some way, but please tell whoever guards the door to being famous to keep it closed. It’s not an aspirational model. It’s conflicted and convoluted in ways that make life difficult for no reason and these days, more often than not it produces something more sinister and nefarious than once imagined. In the eloquent words of millennials around the world, “I’m not about that life.” We could get into the semantics of “notoriety” or “celebrity” but I’m here to tell you – I’ll pass on the whole thing.

Aside from “actual famous” people, on a micro-level social media provides the greatest glimpse of “fame seeking.” There’s this sense of “look at me, look at me” which is intentional in a way, but the question is, ‘when is it too much?’ I’m not here to bash anyone’s need to express themselves in a public way – there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s also nothing wrong with me. I’m not the guardian of how social media is meant to be used, but here are some general questions/thoughts:

Can we let new born babies breathe a bit before we upload photos?

Those subtle Instagram posts about your dating life are not subtle at all.

Why is your Snapchat story 17 minutes long?

We cannot successfully have a healthcare debate over 140 characters.

Can you please tell your Aunts/Uncles that tagging me to that photo from the picnic does absolutely nothing for me?

This faux sense of fame has become engrained in our society. I grew up on “The Real World” (The original reality show), but “reality television” has become the norm with people aspiring for “careers” in these fields – that’s not a joke. While speaking to a group of high school students about future endeavors, one of them told me, “I want to be a social media influencer after college.”

My response: “Sir.” (Said with a healthy mix of skepticism and condescension)

I didn’t know that was a thing you could aspire to be, it seems cool, but often times it’s a result of actually doing something else, no? Mark it as kids these days if you want, but it’s scary. The model for professions/careers change every day, but “social media influencer” – yea, I’m not a dream-killer, but I had a good laugh (Although I laughed, in the back of my mind it feels like I’ll look back and realize I wasn’t as forward thinking as I should have been – but for the sake of what I believe in, I’ll own that).

I don’t want to be anyone else. I admire a few, look up to some as well, but living vicariously through someone else is just odd when there’s so much an individual can do for herself/himself. I fall victim myself at times, aimlessly scrolling various social media feeds feeling judgmental (see above), a tad envious or once in a blue moon – inspired. We do things for the likes, for the release of those endorphins as that like total climbs higher and higher. Rather than enjoying the moment, we want everyone who isn’t there to see how much fun we’re having; not in an organic way whatsoever, usually a strategic placement with perfect angles and staged backdrops. I can’t knock it, I’ve done it and will continue to do it – while at least trying to be a bit clever.

Can you recall the last time you actually printed a photo? I can’t. The effort it took seems monolithic and inflexible, as with a click of a button we can reach anyone. Not even Kodak could have prepared for the rise of digital media as they filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2011 after being the stalwart for photography for more than a century. This sense of connectedness is hollower than it’s ever been, most noticeable in public stale-faces typing social media “LMAO’s.” We want to share things, we want to be noticed, but there was a recent story that tapped into the nuanced importance of remembering the humanity we all share.

I wake up to see Kevin Hart trending on twitter a few days ago – It’s interesting how trending on twitter always feels like trouble; but it was. He made a poor decision that affected his wife and kids – we all make mistakes, it’s not my place to judge that man for his behavior. At this point I had only read reports, but then I saw the Instagram video. Not only did he impair his relationship, he found it necessary to announce said decision and to millions of strangers on Instagram. What makes that acceptable? Is he (Are we) that engrained in social media that we have to make an announcement for personal matters? Personal matters are a relative thing of course, but when I saw the video it just seemed like he was doubling down on the embarrassment. Own up to your mistakes, hold yourself more accountable, but the apology? Nah, he should have passed on that one.

Call it narcissism or being clearly tone-deaf, it just reaffirmed the importance of using social media as opposed to allowing it to use you. He literally took his phone out and shot the video – I wonder if there was more than one take…but I digress. I want to share great content whenever I post, but after seeing the results of his apology, I owe it to myself to be a bit more cognizant.

If feeling compelled to share my wins/losses with total strangers (fan base), is one of the results of being famous, once again you can keep it.

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Greg Stowers is a millennial, cleverly disguised as an adult. Raised on the Northside of Indy, he has a vested interest in public service, non-profit development and music culture.

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