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As people continue to step forward for having alleged affairs with public figures, staging hoaxes and crashing White House private events, Mike Robbins takes a look at what drives people to crave their 15 minutes of fame—no matter what it takes.
I've been fascinated by the recent sensationalized stories in the media about "Balloon Boy," the White House party crashers and the various alleged mistresses of Tiger Woods. While it's easy to get caught up in the drama of these stories, blame the insatiable appetite of the 24-hour news cycle or judge the particular people involved, the deeper issue is that some people seem willing to do just about anything to get their 15 minutes of fame—even if it involves selling out on themselves and those close to them or causing pain, fear or public humiliation for them or others. What is this really all about?
While most of us assume we wouldn't go to the same lengths these people did in order to get attention, and not all of us have a secret fantasy to be the stars of our own reality TV shows, there does seem to be a collective belief in our culture that becoming famous and well-known is an important goal and a key element to being successful and fulfilled in life. No matter how many big examples we've seen over the years to the contrary, many of us still get caught up in the elusive and ego-driven chase of fame. And, even though some of us have no specific desire to be famous, most of us think that if we had or did that (more money, greater influence, better body, perfect relationship, enhance ability, etc.), then we'd be happy or feel like we'd made it.
When I look at this issue for myself, I notice that the driving force behind my own desire for fame (or any of the other external achievements I erroneously think will make me feel accomplished or successful) is a fear that who I am and what I'm doing isn't quite good enough. When we tell the truth to ourselves, most of us have some version of this fear and a deep-seated belief that we're fundamentally flawed. This isn't something we usually bring up at cocktail parties or even admit to the people close to us (or to ourselves). However, when we're really honest about it, our own feelings of inadequacy drive a lot of our behaviors, particularly the most debilitating, inauthentic and destructive ones.
What if, instead of standing back in self-righteous judgment, we use these recent examples (and the many that will inevitably follow) of fame chasing in the media to give us an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, get in touch with what truly matters to us and practice being more authentic instead of chasing attention and acknowledgment. Standing in judgment of other people (those in the media or those in our lives), while easy to do and encouraged by our culture, doesn't really serve us or give us any real value. Relating to people, situations and circumstances as reflections of our personal and collective consciousness and choosing to learn from them gives us the opportunity to change and grow all the time.
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