OPINION: Why We Shouldn’t Idolize Celebrities

Photo Credit: hauteliving.com

Photo Credit: hauteliving.com

Faith Ogie, Opinion Columnist

We are beginning to see the effects of social media and technology as it becomes more and more prevalent in our everyday lives. One of those effects is idolizing celebrities.

Some may not see the problem with idolizing celebrities. But I’m here today to explain how it can be detrimental to children and especially teens in our society.

 Don’t get me wrong. High status celebrities have always existed just in different forms, such as kings, queens, dictators, warriors, and many more. We held them to higher standards than ourselves because of their highlighted achievements. 

But the contrast from then is social media. Back then we didn’t form bonds with people we didn’t know because we weren’t afforded the luxury to be close to them. Now we have social media which validates and worsens parasocial relationships. 

A parasocial relationship is where viewers begin to consider media personalities as friends despite having no or limited interactions with them. So they begin to extend emotional energy, interest, and time while the other party, which is the celebrity, has no idea. 

A good example of this is people who run fan accounts for celebrities such as BTS, Zendaya or Billie Eilish. This can be a good thing for those in their youth because it can help them figure out their identity and who they want to be. Because they look up to these celebrities as motivation to do better because from an outside perspective these celebrities are doing great things. 

But we see the harmful aspect of this with examples of John Lennon or Bjork. Luckily Bjork made it out alive in this situation but John Lennon wasn’t so lucky. So we see that idealization and parasocial relationships don’t only harm the doer but the receiver, which is the celebrity. 

Idolizing celebrities today, especially those who received fame based off of luck and not talent, usually leads to disappointment and the erasure of accountability. During the height of the pandemic while people without the privileges of celebrity were struggling and following CDC guidelines, we saw celebrities who posted about “wearing a mask,” “keeping your elders safe,” and “staying home” throwing mega parties with their other celebrity friends. 

Families had to miss out on Halloween, Christmas, birthdays, and so many more celebrations. They lost their jobs and had to struggle while celebrities got to sit at home and still make money.  

Through all this, we still saw fans defending these celebrities, saying, “Well they should get to have” or “I’m sure they meant no harm.” The reason we see this is because people can not separate their love for celebrities, which results in them not being held accountable. They get to continue like nothing happened. When our youth sees this lack of accountability from their favorite celebrities they start to believe they can do bad things and get away with it. 

You may ask how does the actions of celebrities affect how children or teens will behave? When you idolize someone you tend to imitate them. 

Another negative effect of idolizing is comparison, which results in wanting to live the lifestyle of celebrity and when you don’t attain that you feel shame or have low self-esteem. Your self worth now depends on how much you can compare yourself to a celebrity. If it’s not their money, it’s their clothes, it’s their bodies, it’s their success. 

Yetunde Ogunleye in her article about idolizing celebrities stated, “The ricochet effect of this is that we as a culture begin to be obsessed with highly unlikely, inaccessible, and most likely detrimental lifestyles of the rich and famous.”

We are so wrapped up in that because of social media. We follow these celebrities and consume their lives through our phone screens, not to learn but to compare.

People say all the time that celebrities are out of touch and don’t live in reality. It’s very true because they don’t live a regular life. Their lifestyle is unattainable to the average person.

As a society we have always fallen into the trap of envy and idolizing instead of just appreciating. We keep needing to be reminded that celebrity culture isn’t real life and there isn’t anything valuable to be learned from it. 

So we can finally put down our phones and focus on those who are in front of us: our families, friends and mentors. Those who inspire us every day and we don’t even realize it because we are focused on the unattainable.