One of the most controversial politicians in Venezuela, the ex-president Carlos Andres Perez once said: “My ambition is not for money, my ambition is for history”. Although he said these words in the context of an investigation for corruption, to me represented one of the most meaningful statements I’ve ever heard. So much that I still remember it like it was yesterday.
I was very young when this happened but it got me thinking a lot about the purpose of everything I would do for the rest of my life, to me the idea of a place in the books of history was way more appealing than any amount of money or possessions.
It was in the mid 90’s, back then we didn’t know about the internet, the idea of being famous was something out of reach and it had a completely different meaning. Being famous was a merit, something you had to work for, it meant that some sort of achievement would grant you the admiration of the people. Then the internet came and completely changed what being famous means.
The internet and the democratization of mass media communication made it way too easy for everybody to create content, any kind of content and share it to the world with no moderation, a lot of people started to simply expose their thoughts, emotions, even their private life to the world and it turned out that we LOVE IT. That voyeuristic nature we all have was awakened and all of the sudden there was a frenzy for peeking into other people’s lives, any people, literally any kind of people. The reality shows were born, from the daily life of a rockstar family like “The Osbourne” to social experiments like confining and isolating groups of people for periods of time to be observed coping with themselves and others, like animal in a medical study, survival competitions, business competitions, skills competitions, romance, you name it! everything you could turn into a reality show was made one.
Many of the characters who are getting a lot of fame and influence out of these shows are of very questionable and deplorable nature, some of them very little or no education at all, some others with extremist or racist ideologies, some even involved in child molestation, incest, or other kind of crimes, people who all of the sudden where not only very famous but in many cases seen as role models.
“Stop Making Stupid People Famous” a sentence attributed to a street artist called “Plastic Jesus” seems to fit perfectly, as internet personalities and so-called “influencers” gather incredible amounts of followers and make big sums of money
Like money, fame should never be the purpose for doing anything in life, since the arrival of the internet the idea of fame has completely changed, everybody with a camera and an outrageous behavior now have the chance to become famous by simply pulling pranks on people or making some stupid challenges that many times end up badly. There have been many reports of people that have been killed or seriously injured by some of these challenges or trying to capture the ultimate selfie, just for the desperate chase for fame and money.
Instead, those people creating good, edifying and educative content don’t get even a fraction of the same attention which tells a lot about the kind of individuals and the kind of society we are creating.
We have to be more selective about what we consume, what kind of role model we have in our life, who are we following. Fame is an illusion, is temporal, it vanishes with time and not necessarily leaving something relevant behind. Instead of fame, we should work for legacy, by producing work that is relevant, important, of benefit to somebody, something constructive.
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