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We are living in a time like no other. Celebrity culture has burgeoned to almost breaking point, threatening to hijack our minds to absorption with the trivial and the pointless. If the adoring public is so inclined, they can be apprised of the daily photographic postures and poses of their chosen celebrity, and their soundbite tweets. They won’t really be told anything of any substance but it will be enough to whet the appetite for more, and trigger a media circus of wild speculation. 

With the emergence of the internet and its various apps such as Youtube, Instagram, snapchat, twitter – an all other various forms of social media – it’s easy to be focused almost exclusively on others in the know. It’s all too easy for other peoples’ lives to be more compelling than our own. We feel we have to check in with them on their channels, news platforms, subscribe to their channels, do google searches to find out the latest. With the rise of fake news, there is no certainty as to whether what we’re reading has any truth or validity, but we tune in nonetheless because we have become addicts.

Whilst so many would be quick to issue warnings about social media because of the spying which has been recently exposed – the fact that our identities and confidential information is being traded [“trading in the souls of men” – Revelation 18:13], there is something even more insidious at work. We’re losing ourselves, the limited earth time we have is running out like sands in the hour glass. Our destinies (why we are on earth in the first place) is being sabotaged. Our self-esteem is going down the plug hole as we think that our lives are trifling and inconsequential compared to the lives of those we worship.

There are many cultural values and trends which have been normalised and have ensnared us. But most prevalent and insidious of all is the modern appetite for fame.

It is one of the modern criteria by which we measure success and may cover a spectrum of degrees from how many friends you have on Facebook, connections of LinkedIn to whether you’re considered a celebrity A-lister in Hollywood or one of the other worldwide entertainment industries such as Bollywood or Nollywood. How this is determined is anybody’s guess. Is it how many leading magazine covers you achieve, who you hob-knob with, whether you’re a winner of notable industry awards, are pursued by the paparazzi or do people across the globe know you by your first name alone?

Simon Cowell, British TV mogul and music producer who is best known for being the producer and a judge on the X Factor, just gained a star on the Hollywood walk of fame [https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/entertainment-arts-45285005/simon-cowell-gets-star-on-hollywood-walk-of-fame, accessed 23 August 2018]. He paid tribute to fame as a dream worth chasing. I’ve never understood the hoopla surrounding putting your hands in mud to make an imprint on the sidewalk, but the culture recognises it as a milestone achievement in the entertainment industry. One day those very pavements will be  uprooted and replaced with eternal streets of pure gold reflected like transparent glass and flanked by pearly gates in the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:21).

The media colludes with the famous by courting them and shining their spotlight on them because they have something to sell which  countless thousands or millions want to buy. Whether it’s a block-buster film, a new music album, a beauty or fashion accessory or just sex appeal, this dance between the famous and the adoring fans, can reach feverpitch.

In the first of the ten commandments God warned His people not to have any gods before Him. He wasn’t just power-tripping. Idols separate us from God who is the power source who enables us to fulfil our life’s purpose on earth. Celebrity obsession is blinding peoples’ hearts to the real God, and feeding an unhealthy thirst for fame such as through X-Factor, Britain’s got Talent.

Why do so many nurture this unhealthy need for fame? The average human being does not feel important because:

  • People hardly notice one another anymore. I’m not talking about on the streets but in their own homes.
  • People don’t maintain meaningful conversation with one another anymore.
  • People have little or no sense of what they contribute to their work, families and communities.
  • Our peer groups don’t last for very long and keep changing.

The significance of the individual has been sacrificed on the altar of celebrity/idol worship. Instead of people being taught to live their lives and discover their own destinies from the inside out  through prayerful self-examination, contemplation and the unavoidable path of painful trial and error, they are fed the false values of hero worship which encourage them to loathe their own identities and instead crave to be like someone else. Mass hysteria is fuelled for a celebrity based on the most superficial of qualities such as beauty, popularity, or creative/performing ability. Behind it all is a strategic ploy to maximise profits at the expense of peoples’ wallets and their own selfhood.

To find your own path in life requires the courage to step aside from  the throng or what the masses are doing, and to discover one’s own purpose. We must recognise that society will not always applaud or validate our choices. But if we seek to live with eternity in mind rather than the ephemeral values of fame, “well done, you good and faithful servant” will be like music to our ears when our time on earth is done – the best eulogy of all.

Carla Cornelius

Dr Carla seeks to bring a fresh and thought-provoking perspective to today's popular culture. With her Ph.D. in Biblical Counselling, she invites readers to see the relevance of the Bible in addressing the difficult and disturbing issues of our times.