Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Curse of Popularity

One of my favorite musicians is Glen Phillips. On his blog profile he explains his early success with his music career and now his recovery from it. This led to me a thought that may bore you. The need for popularity seems to start pretty young. The phrase “popularity contest” emerges in junior high somewhere, used when kids feel like all the best-known students get picked first for everything. Teachers, coaches and other kids give the nod to ones who are more likeable, thus creating more of a craving for being one of those favored. It’s at this point a kid might make a subtle, probably unconscious choice. The craving for popularity begins its gnawing, so the kid begins to change, becoming someone else in order to fit in. The kid chooses activities that get recognized, never questioning whether or not he loves those activities or not. The main thing is the drug of being noticed is delivered and begins is soothing, numbing work. I wonder how many kids are in sports, play in the band, take certain classes, not because they like those things, but because they are in love with the idea of those things. These kids then grow into adults like me who get into their 40’s and start wondering what to do with their life. I’m not saying I regret the choices of life direction I made, but I do often wonder how life might be different had I not been seduced by a need to be popular. Would I have pursued other interests purely for the sake of enjoying them, without the ulterior motive of hoping they might get me recognized? You always hear bands make statements like this on VH1’s Behind the Music, "You’ve ghot to luv the mooosic, mahn. Its’ awl aboat the mooosic.” They come to these realizations after their fall from the spotlight. Were they in it because they loved making the music, or for what the music might get them? I think I needed to get out of vocational ministry because I stopped loving the music. I prostituted it for my own gain. I had in the back of my mind that it would take me somewhere, that it would make me popular. I needed a change to remind me what it meant to do something for the sheer pleasure of it. I think I’m getting there {could this be the topic for my best-seller?} Solomon said there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his life’s work and I couldn’t agree more. To have something you love doing, regardless of whether or not people think its great or not, is a great gift to possess.


Bryan Riley said...

Hmmmm, i hear you. i'm not sure i agree with the entire sentiment, although what i am feeling is disagreement with something you didn't actually say. i'm thinking along the lines of piper's desiring God and Psalm 37.... and what i mean is that your post sure sounds like it is more about you, and pleasing yourself, than it is about anything else. you may not have meant that at all because what you are primarily pointing out is how we drug ourselves through chasing popularity, and with that point I agree and think that it is a sad reality, particularly when adults continue immaturely to chase that end. Our ultimate end is to glorify God; if our heart is in that and our heart is in our work, then, wow... what a powerful statement our lives will make.

yourplanispuny said...

I think God is glorified when we find freedom from bondage and choose to point others toward freedom without having to get caught up in directly and consciously and intentionally saying that it is "for God's glory." God never ceases to amaze me in the subtle, humble ways that he frees people with his glory, far away from the spotlight and the lottery ticket. Speaking of freedom and God's glory, try Dai Viet, a dark ale from Vietnam. Its not a bad drink. By the way, dude, I was at Yardhouse a couple of weeks ago and ordered a Stone Arrogant Bastard and thought of you. Fine, fine, fine beer.