Society’s unhealthy obsession

22 March 2018

Society’s unhealthy obsession

Image credit: Eva Rinaldi (Flickr)

In today’s fast-paced, modern era, we are all connected to our smartphones and devices more than ever. We are saturated with internet stars, movie stars, and musicians all over our news feeds and social media pages. In a world where even chefs can be regarded as celebrities, it is no surprise that a large portion of society looks up to these people as idols or role models, and feel connected to them in some way.

However, when does it become too much? And when does our harmless interest in a celebrity’s work turn into an unhealthy obsession?

Now, I personally have no problem with people showing an elevated interest in someone else’s hard work. I too, have preferred musicians, and take a liking to certain actors and actresses over others. But you will never find me with 10 posters of someone who does not even know I exist hanging above my bed frame.

Like I said, although I don’t see a problem with people being huge fans of someone, my concern lies with the extreme cases. It is one thing to have a couple posters of celebrities you like, but what I don’t understand is when people—often young girls—get so infatuated with the idea of meeting a celebrity that they would travel great distances just to cry and scream as they watch their idol walk from a vehicle to a building. This is what puzzles me most about society’s crazy fascination with the rich and famous, and seeing footage of young teenagers acting this way can be quite confronting.

If someone is a huge fan of an artist, it is understood that they would perhaps like to meet said artist. However, it is as if all logic and rational thinking is thrown out the window as soon as we get a whiff of a possible celebrity sighting. We see civilised, well-mannered homo-sapiens devolve into a vicious pack of rioting apes as soon as the chance of snapping a photo of One Direction is sensed.

I’d like to understand where the root of such a fascination stems from. Sadly, it is more common than we should expect for crazed fans to allow an obsession of a celebrity to grow so strong that it pushes them to do drastic things such as harming the very person they idolise, such as in the famous death of Beatles star John Lennon, who was shot by a huge fan, Mark David Chapman, in 1980.

How is it that the more popular and liked someone becomes, the more cautious and vigilant of harm they must also become? A truly interesting dichotomy. It is fascinating to explore this topic, and try to understand the psychology behind celebrity worship. Is it that we are drawn to the money and power that someone has? Or do we simply feel so connected to our idols that we grow desperate to meet them, and be a part of their success?

I suppose as social creatures, we see something that is desirable in these celebrities; and we can wish to become more like them by copying their styles, picking up trends, and supporting their movements. We adopt lifestyle changes, and make choices that allow us to feel more secure, and help us resemble what we value so much in our celebrity idols.

Regardless of how you feel on the issue, there is no denying that celebrities have immense pull and power over society’s values and ideals — perhaps a little too much power in my opinion. There will always be people with great skill and talent—and others without so much—that us plebeians will see something special in and value. We will always have our preferences, and will always prefer one person’s work more than another’s, but will we ever see a time where we aren’t so focused and driven by celebrity affairs?

Now, I am unsure of whether society will ever see a time where we are without screaming, teen girls salivating over boy bands, or whether we will ever see a day without the Kardashians and the like filling our screens; but the fact that we are living in an age where a celebrity like Donald Trump is the current leader of arguably the most powerful country in the world, it seems as if we are falling deeper and deeper into this rabbit hole of celebrity obsession. I just hope that common sense can prevail, and we aren’t so biased and willing to passively accept whatever our favourite stars push on us in the future.