The Number One Way We Fail Young People
Young people today are growing up in a world that tells them if you want to matter, you have to be famous. And they'll do anything to be famous. The easiest and quickest way to have a best selling book or keynote a major conference is to be famous or popular. Big advances and appearance fees go to those with name recognition.
The conclusion, then, is that to be seen or to make money, one needs to be famous. And without any kind of guidance, people will seek to become famous at any cost.
We don't push the idea that you can write a book and have it catch on if you have something groundbreaking to say. It's not the best stories or ideas presented most simply that get stage time at major venues. A lot of times, even in the music of film business, talent doesn't matter.
And so instead of honing a craft or finding the story within, teenagers and students base life plans on reality TV stardom. Why grind my way to the top when The Voice can catapult me there? Why learn how to write or tell a story when a few seasons of getting drunk on mTV will get me in magazines and a book deal?
I don't have an easy solution to this issue other than to tell young people that famous people don't matter (and then backing it up by ignoring people who are famous for being famous). Who matters are the people that have a lasting and meaningful impact on us. Teachers, grandparents, and change agents matter, not because they're famous, but because they are meaningful.
If we can tell that story enough and help young people believe it, we may have a way out of the mess we've created.