Why Keep Up With The Kardashians (and Others)?

So many people avidly follow the outrageous behaviors of quixotic celebrities like Hollywood starlets, the Kardashians, Basketball Wives, Jersey Shore, Duck Dynasty, The Bachelor, Real Husbands, or Real Housewives of wherever.

They are accorded adulation and envy by millions of followers, while they’re reviled by many others who point to this idolatry as example of the decline of American culture.

Followers of these media-created celebrities seem to get vicarious thrills by watching them fly high, and when they fall from grace they revel in their misfortunes and cluck at their follies, feeling “holier than thou” and much better about themselves and their own lives.

The popular TV show, “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” depicts luxurious houses and baubles, beyond the dreams of most viewers. But even more than these accumulated material ‘toys,’ fans covet the melodramas that pervade the celebrities’ lives, seemingly in contrast to their own mundane existences.

I haven’t met any of these “famous for being famous” celebrities, but I’ll let you in on a secret: The lives of these media creations are no more interesting than yours and mine, or those of our families and friends. I’ve studied and worked for years with people of all ages and all walks of life, celebrities and unknowns, and wonder of wonders, they are all “mere mortals,” with all the insecurities that we have at times.

They are neither saints nor sinners. There are a few who are particularly outrageous and nasty, just as there are others who are impressively caring and generous. But for the most part, they are responsible citizens who work hard, are kind to others, love their families, and do their best to cope with life’s challenges.

The fans who are wrapped up in the melodramas of these celebrities are in fact missing out on the fullness of their own lives. Just look at your own personal and family history, what you’ve been through, your ups and downs, loves and losses, successes and setbacks, and you’ll immediately know what I mean.

If these fans take the time to appreciate the fullness of their own existence, how much they have been through, how their friends and families have enhanced their lives, how caring and generous to others they have been, how resilient they have been in the face of adversity, there would be no need for them to look upon these ersatz stars as their personal heroes.

The fact is that all our lives are like rich tapestries, filled with complex textures, varying colors, unexpected nuances, and to be sure, multiple dramas. We all lead extra-ordinary lives.

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