The latest headlines are splashed with the harrowing details of the traumatic assault and robbery of reality star Kim Kardashian in her Paris hotel room. It’s hard to argue that this is not an objectively awful experience for this young woman. No one deserves to be violated or victimized in any way, in any context.
But the event does underscore the intense popularity and hyper focus of our culture on reality stars. And how this obsession can be distracting at best and dangerous at worst. Particularly for kids and young adults. Distracting for individuals who spend a lot of time following or thinking about these reality stars when energy could be spent on more personally productive activity. And, dangerous for those that are the object of such affection as demonstrated by the crime perpetrated against Kardashian. Also, potentially dangerous for those doing the obsessing. Comparing oneself to these unattainable standards can be a rabbit hole for the psyche. Thoughts about wanting to look like, act like, sound like, be like these so called celebrities can invade how one views themselves. It can impact self-esteem and the development of reasonable standards for how one looks or moves through the world.
It’s not that these reality stars are inherently “bad”. It’s how we as a culture interact with their existence that is concerning. From a psychological perspective, role models such as parents and teachers and coaches perhaps have less influence in the wake of the popularity of such figures.
So how do we combat some of these dynamics? Likely, it’s all in the ground game. Starting at home and in our schools and in our community. Spending time with our kids. Monitoring social media. Exposing children and young adults to healthy ways to evaluate their self work—their kindness, their efforts, their friendships, their talents, their level of empathy, their integrity.
Face to face time with kids talking about and demonstrating a positive way to move through the world adds to the picture our young people are painting of who and how they want to be. There is no other replacement for this invaluable currency.