Thursday, 6 October 2011

Be somebody

My husband has been away for what feels like an eternity. But one good thing that comes of his trips abroad is that I get to watch a LOT of trash TV, stuff that wouldn't ordinarily be allowed to flicker across our screens.

While watching the X-Factor and Pushy Mums, I kept hearing the same sentence expressed over and over again:

'I want to be somebody'

This line was usually followed with words like:
"I can't go back to my old life of being a nobody."
 "Why would anybody want to be a nobody?"
"I want to be special"
"I want to be a somebody like Katie Price" (this last one is particularly worrying!)

I take no issue with people having ambition. But there are two things that sadden and worry me about the sentiment behind these words.

1. Firstly, these people view being famous as 'being somebody'. They don't want to be 'somebody' who can invent a cure for cancer or enable world peace or even simply be a really good singer for singing sake. 'Somebody' means having people recognising you in the street and screaming your name. They want the wealth, luxury, status and ego that goes with being 'somebody'.

Steve Jobs - he was a somebody. He invented products that have changed the way we as a society communicate, work and play. Now that's being somebody. Yet you don't get kids queuing up to be Britain's Best Inventor, bursting into floods of tears when their science experiments get the chop at boot camp (maybe ITV has this reality show in the pipeline - if not, perhaps I'll suggest it).

But would kids today think Steve Jobs was somebody? I asked my boys if they knew who Steve Jobs was. They didn't. I asked if they knew who the company was that made daddy's ipad. They said Apple. So they knew something. Intrigued about how much more they knew, I asked if they knew who the founder of Microsoft was. They asked: 'What's Microsoft?' A sign of the app-based times perhaps?

Isn't it a shame that children can name famous footballers and pop stars and actors but have barely heard of the great innovators in the world? I suppose they'd be ridiculed as geeks if they had posters of Bill Gates and Michael Dell and Steve Jobs and Richard Branson and James Dyson stuck on their walls. But imagine how different the world would be if kids believed that innovating and using your brain was cool instead of being able to warble a tune or kick a ball?

2. Secondly, what really, really saddened me is how so many of the people on these shows believe that without fame, they are nothing. A nobody.

Don't they realise that they are someone's child, someone's mum or dad, someone's brother/sister/teacher/work colleague/congregation member/member of society? Don't they realise that every single person has the potential to be something great and that greatness can be incredibly quiet and unassuming?

I know that secretly I would love to be able to achieve something extraordinary - no matter what that is - so that on my deathbed I could look back and feel proud that I made the most of my life. But it's highly likely that I won't invent the next big thing or become a world famous singer. I'll live an ordinary, unremarkable life. One that the people on those TV shows would describe as 'a nobody'.

But I know the truth. I am a somebody. To the people who matter the most. And that's what counts.


Yusuf C said...

Nice blog.

As we evolve, I'd hope that the celebrity 'need' that is exposed by x-factor etc is just a passing phase.

PS - we both know a business woman who has/had a (signed) photo of her youngerself with Branson in her room.... I think it's great, and reminded her of what she enjoys doing.

Someonesmrs said...

I could sense a blogpost from your FB comment this am!
I saw Grand Designs last night, where the woman converting a ginormous barn into a family dwelling didn't want what "everyone else" wants...she felt herself special and to deserve "more" or better or different. Not some nasty little brick house like the little people live in.
Are we somehow bringing up a generation that is so used to being praised up to the hilt ("wow you counted to three and you are only in year 4!") that it craves that vacuous praise and thinks it will get it by "fame" rather than actually achieving something amazing like the great Steve Jobs and co?

Alice said...

Great post. I too was appalled at the proclamations of the X Factor that they wanted to 'be somebody'. It's so sad that people believe they must chase fame in order to make a difference in this world.

Likewise I've been pretty upset this morning by the drama-starters on Twitter this morning who are saying they can't understand 'all the fuss' over the passing of Steve Jobs. The man touched and changed so many lives, mine included! I enjoy my job so much and it is down to him that I do. In my eyes he was a god amongst men.

Muddling Along said...

Good post - this whole obsession with being famous for the sake of being famous I find very hard to understand

Be famous for being good at something not just for being - hopefully the Olympics will do something to redress this balance

nappy valley girl said...

Very good post and very true. So many people just want instant celebrity - why else would they go into the Big Brother house for example? Why not actually achieve something. I was just reading in a book about Mr Ferris who invented the Ferris wheel. He died at age 37 - so young, but he really had achieved something amazing.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Great post. And good to read that I am not the only one who resorts to crap TV as soon as the husband has left the house :-)

la tipa del tappo said...

very nice post.

angelsandurchinsblog said...

Hear, hear. To the watching rubbish TV when the OH is away, to realising what being 'somebody' really means.