Technology has brought us to an incredible point. From our seat in bed, on a bus, in a park or at our work desk we can read the latest thought or observe the most recent action or outfit of a person anywhere in the world. It needn’t be in the same time zone or language in order for you to access. They most likely aren’t even a peer or some someone we are personally familiar with in order for us to be able to access and make judgments. The fact that I am writing this on a bus in Perth, Western Australia, and you are Who-Knows-Where doing Who-Knows-What is proof of exactly that.
To my mind this fact alone is mind-blowing, as it has all come about during my lifetime. Facebook is only just over ten years old!
I’m not one for gossip magazines. To be honest I’m not one for gossip. Or magazines. I veer very strongly from following contemporary news and feel awkward when positioned to listen to ‘those popular music stations’. It’s not that I’m a snob, or at least I don’t try to be. I certainly don’t want to be misinterpreted on this point so I will begin by clarifying something.
I do not believe the intelligence of an individual is associated to how closely they follow Pop music and Pop stars, celebrity relationships and celebrity behaviours. I do not distinguish how interesting a person is by the music they like, what occupies their mind during their ‘down time’ and what texts they read and follow regularly. I just don’t.
According to research performed by various psychologists, and I’m sure other specialists such as Neurologists, people as they exist today learn to some extent through imitating and emulating behaviour that they respond to positively, or are rewarded for.
In teaching and education, teachers are encouraged and made aware of the benefits of employing Behaviourist techniques and attitudes originally developed by B. F. Skinner to promote the desired learning outcomes. Some parents do this as well as some animal trainers, such as dog trainers. I use this to talk to my cat, even though I know I sound loopy and it is ineffective.
As a species the homo sapien appears to be a pack animal. (We are probably, I just haven’t read too much about this so please feel free to share with me the correct documentation and research.) There is no denying we have existed in numbers, groups or collectives for quite a large traceable part of our history. It’s why we have friends and keep in touch with our extended family and old school acquaintances. When the first ten or twenty years of our life are directed so intensely in the behaviourist methodology of learning, pushing us in to structured emulation strategies and knowledge acquisition it strikes me there is a profound residual effect on our cognition.
Regardless of how you felt about your upbringing and school, you cannot argue that it didn’t have an impact on the adult You. As adults we crave the presentation of ourselves as meaningful in some way. How we dress, speak, behave is all this exact representation. As said by Mark Twain in his biography:
There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.
We represent ourselves by what we have seen in others that we like. Due to the depth of immersion available to us by social media and networking via the numerous technologies the representations are rarely based on one source. It would be dull and likely inexact if they were. We want to be the one that looks good brandishing the improved kaleidoscope.
My Big Question from this is:
Why do we choose celebrities to admire and model ourselves after?
They are already known by millions. They already have a strong following of backers, earning a lot for what they do and have access to achieve what they want. Good for them, their life is ‘made’. They won’t recognise you on the street and thank you for your support.
So, what do you get out of it? Come to think of it, what do they get out of it too?
Not only did I have Kim Kardashian’s naked derrière on my news feed recently. I also had the passing of an incredibly talented young chef from Kuala Lumpur, the recent record breaking feats of a tiny weight lifter from Sydney, a young woman from country Western Australia opening her own baked goods and sweets company, and a woman from Wollongong being invited to read a paper she had written on depression.
Why do we want to cut our hair like Jennifer Anniston? Or dress like Toni Collette?
I want to create jungle animals out of icing and understand the basics of a bench press. I wish I had known her son better before he passed away and I wish I had tried some of his fabulous desserts.
When we visit our social media pages who do we spend the most time on and why?
I’m not trying to criticise. I just want to create an opportunity to reflect. Allow yourself to be honest but not accusing as you ask yourself these questions:
Is someone on your feed trying to accomplish something?
Has anyone been working on starting a business, or finishing a project?
Do you know someone that may be going through a hard time?
Don’t be concerned if you haven’t spoken to that person in a little while, years even. Don’t worry if you feel you may be overstepping an unseen line. Take an opportunity to create a little bit of celebrity for someone that will recognise it, deserve it, need it.
Think about what you want. What you would want.
Think about how it would make you feel.
Think about someone else and use this giving time of year to create celebrity in the everyday. Make someone a star. Let the world know how great they are and how much they achieve.
Give a priceless gift. Show someone how much they are valued and special they can be.