Beware of The Fame Monster

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

There was a time when fame and celebrity were synonymous with talent, hard work, and determination.

If you were famous—or if you were a celebrity—it meant that you had to be really good at something in order to have earned that title.  (Celebrities were people who we “celebrated”—that’s where the word originally came from—so you had to have had something that was a cause for celebration.) In order to be famous, you had to be so good at something that your talent influenced hundreds of thousands of people in a positive way.

But with the advent of Reality Television (or as I like to call it: “Bad Actors Performing Poorly Written Scripts” Television), and the internet, the definition of fame and celebrity has been drastically mutated into a stupid, raunchy, lazy version of itself (like Michael Keaton’s third clone in Multiplicity.)

It used to be that people wanted to be famous because being famous meant that you were very talented—or at least that you had accomplished something meaningful and influential to humanity.

But now, in an absurd twist of fate, people just want to be famous for fame’s sake. They’ve forgotten that fame had always been a result of talent and hard work, and that the only reason being famous meant anything in the first place was because it was a sign that you had real talent.

It’s kinda like a child being mesmerized by a hot air balloon in the sky and then going up to his parents afterward to beg them for a box of hot air—forgetting all about the big balloon and the basket that made the whole endeavor worthwhile in the first place.

Just like that boy who foolishly begs for a box of hot air, people are becoming more and more obsessed with wanting to be known simply for being known.  

But why does no one see that being known simply for being known has no value to it whatsoever? Why does no one see that The Fame Monster is slowly but surely taking over our lives? Why are we all becoming more and more hypnotized by fame—the box of “hot air” that really doesn’t—in and of itself—make true artists soar?

Stop Chasing The Fame Monster. Be of Value Instead.

In the long run, those who desperately want to become known just for being known will be forgotten. Which is ironic because their desperate bid to be remembered—simply for remembrance sake—ends up being the very thing that makes them fall into oblivion for the rest of eternity.

This is the trick of The Fame Monster. It promises to make you a star, forgetting to mention that even stars implode and disappear, eventually. Success ebbs and flows throughout your life, and whether you will be famous or not is completely out of your control.

But there is something that never changes—something that is in your complete control. (It’s something that “Fame” used to represent, back in the day, before it mutated into The Monster it is now.)

What is it? It’s simple. It’s your value.

You see, we can’t ever choose to be famous, but we can always choose to be of value. And no matter how rich or poor, known or unknown, well connected or not, we can always be of value to someone else.

We can lend a hand. We can listen. We can offer advice. We can offer guidance. We can share our story. We can be a shoulder to cry on. We can point someone in the right direction. We can give someone a smile, a hug, a pat on the back.

We can invest, we can explain, we can teach, we can learn, we can be quiet, we can offer our condolences, we can be respectful, we can work hard, we can offer insight, we can lead, we can follow… we can always offer value.

Value should be the new obsession of our generation. Not The Fame Monster.

Forget fame and celebrity. Who needs it?

Instead of seeking to be famous writers, then, let us seek to be valuable writers. If fame or celebrity comes as a result of these efforts, then that’s wonderful. But we’ll always know that fame is not the end goal.

Because real celebrity means we have done something worthy of being celebrated; and if we haven’t contributed anything of value to society–then please don’t call us a celebrity. We don’t deserve that title.

Let us not seek celebrity, then. Instead let us seek to create something worthy of celebration. Let us not seek fame, but instead, let us try to create something that makes us worthy of being known.

Otherwise, let us not seek celebrity, or fame, at all.

Let us seek to be of value to others. Because when we are valuable, even if we leave this earth without a single soul recognizing our name, we will have the comfort of knowing that, at least, we weren’t a waste.

much value,


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31 comments on “Beware of The Fame Monster

  1. Catherine Johnson says:

    Great post, Ollin. This really ties in with a lot of talk about Amazon and whether or not you want to crank out lots of freebies or learn your craft and go the long way. Of course you could learn your craft and go the self-publishing sell your soul direction. There’s so many options these days and so many people telling you what to do too. Trust your own instincts is so very important these days.

  2. Christina says:

    Ollin, this is one of your best posts EVER, for EVERYONE!

    So true, to be of value to the people around you, to create something that has a good influence on the world.

    As if the red carpet can ever be the measure of anyone’s worth.

    So true, and there’s a reason Albert Einstein was and still is a genius. Though he never thought of himself as one.

    BTW did you see how the CERN researchers said there was a glitch in their research and Einstein was, in fact, correct.

  3. Great post Ollin . fame on its own adds nothing. and devalues all the famous who have added value because of their talent

  4. Dave says:

    Great post, Ollin. I wish more people thought the same way.

  5. What makes this reminder so great is that creating our value to others is one of the few things that we can have some control over. AND, value is so much more important than fame. It’s easy to get the perspective warped by the media, though, which is why we need posts like this. Thanks, Ollin!

    • Ollin says:

      It is good to have reminders. If we look at the media we can be convinced that fame, in and of itself, has value. But if we remember the whole point of fame in the first place, we might realize that we’re being sold a lie.

  6. Conor Ebbs says:

    Hi Ollin,

    Thank you for articulating this so well.

    I think anyone who wants to be famous needs their head checked.

    Time and time again ‘celebrities’ get torn apart by media vultures and fans, or go down in a premature drug-addled blaze of indignity. And young people want to somehow emulate this?

    We hail the wrong heroes, and the notion of celebrity was always a stained one. They are fragile human beings, like the rest of us.

    Anonymity is a treasured possession. How else can we scribble away in coffee shops without being interrupted? 🙂


    • Ollin says:

      I know. Secretly I’d rather not be famous. I kinda love my anonymity! It lets me be free to observe people and that’s so essential to any writer!

  7. Heather Hill says:

    Great post. You are right, focusing on offering value is long lasting and meaningful. You see a lot of folks in the music business wanting to be famous. I am afraid the pursuit of fame rarely takes a person the full distance. The love of music and connecting with people is the true gift.

  8. Angelyn says:

    “Bad Actors Performing Poorly Written Scripts” Television” : I love this! Perfect description. I agree but I try not to be too hard on the fame seekers. If society as a whole did not support this practice, did not put people on pedestals because they “accidentally” released a sex video or because they have implants and/or piercings in odd places, these folk would have to see affirmation elsewhere.

    • Ollin says:

      Good. I guess I took a good first step in making it known that I don’t care for fame and that people should try to be valuable instead. Maybe if we all did things might change?

  9. I have always wanted to be famous. As a television reporter for many years, I actually WAS famous for a while. People would recognize me in the streets. When I showed up to a public place, there would be a moment of silence. It was great fun. But now I write not to be famous at all. It is necessary that I seize this opportunity and write all the stories and books I have wanted to write since forever. I’m not wasting time any more. And I feel valuable at last.

  10. Dana Bennett says:

    Thank you, Ollin, for this brilliant post. It’s how we move through the world and our lives – are we always the takers, or do we live in mindful love of others and of ourselves – that really makes the difference. The most talented writers and artists live in relative anonymity and quiet. They must. That is their spring of creativity. And like you said, being free to observe people is essential to any writer. I hope you become well-known but not “famous!”

    • Ollin says:

      Haha, well, thank you Dana. I hope I am valuable. See, I don’t have to wait to become valuable I can already seek to be valuable now! I love value. Who needs fame? Give me value any day. I love it.

  11. Very interesting topic and very true! Makes me almost sick how people like Rebecca Black can have a “career” without working for it.

    (By the way, are you a Lady Gaga fan? She talks about this on her second album and mentions how much she hates money and fame at her shows. Had to ask!)

  12. Lois Hudson says:

    Good, thoughtful post, Ollin.

  13. Jodie says:

    🙂 Nicely said. 🙂

  14. Kari Scare says:

    Seems like people struggle so much with identity and value these days, and this is leading to the desire to be famous for being famous. For me, knowing that my value comes from Christ really drives who I am and what I do. What I do does not create my value. I am valued because He loves me. From that, I can grow and do and be… and if that makes me famous, great (well, maybe not), but that’s certainly not a goal, and fame or recognition is certainly not what defines me and gives me value.

    • Ollin says:

      That makes sense. So maybe we’re all looking for value anyways, just looking in all the wrong places for it?

      • Kari Scare says:

        I know I certainly was. Until I looked for my value in Christ, I never could truly value myself. This has made a tremendous difference in my life. Wish it wouldn’t have taken 38 years (I’m almost 40) to figure it out though.

  15. dleo61 says:

    Nice, well thought out post Olin. Have you come upon this truth recently or have you known it for quite some time? Has this changed the way you write?

    • Ollin says:

      Well, I remember back when I wanted to be an actor everyone always told me: “one day you will be famous!” It’s something people always say. Not just to me but to each other. As if fame itself is a sign that you are a success. But just through observation I realized that this doesn’t make sense. It was actually the albert einstein quote that really got me thinking about this a long time ago. And more recently I just realized that our culture’s obsession with fame was getting way out of control. I kept hearing names like Paris Hilton, and Kim Kardashian, and Snooki and then I find out that they have no talent other than that they are famous. What is that about? Anyways, this post actually just comes out of my frustration about our culture’s obsession with fame. Not that there’s anything wrong with fame itself, but I think we need to find the right balance. As far as how it has influenced my writing: I try to write posts that are valuable to my readers, and leave all the viral stuff up to chance.

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