The most startling aspect of the Richard Heene “balloon boy” debacle isn’t that he used his children as pawns, or that he wasted taxpayer dollars so that hundreds of people could look for his not-missing child, or even that he lied.
The most remarkable part of the story is that he did all of this for…a reality TV show.
Way to set that bar high, buddy.
As the story of the hoax broke, people were outraged, and rightfully so, but they should not have been shocked. Heene is not the first person to shamelessly put his family up for auction to the highest bidder in the name of fame. If “Octo-Mom” can have networks knocking on her door to give her $50,000 an episode, who can blame mad-scientist Richard Heene for wanting some green?
People used to only have a shot at fame if they were enormously talented and landed that one-in-a-million chance of connecting with the right people, living in the right city, and succeeding on their thousandth audition. Now, everyone is under the impression that if they put themselves out there, are weird enough, and are OK with being filmed in their home, they will gain national recognition.
Decent behavior and dignity have taken understudy roles, unfortunately.
Example: “The Real Housewives” series. There is not one ounce of regret or embarrassment for being portrayed as vain, selfish, catty women. They are proud of it. But at least the networks know this and play it up to embarrass them. It’s like the viewers and the producers are in on the same joke at the absurdity of their behavior. (Full disclosure: I think these women are pathetic…yet I am obsessed with the New York branch.)
It’s as if most of us crave worship. We want others to look at our lives, approve, and envy. We want people to admire us and want to be like us.
If anyone thinks they are above this banal behavior, they should check their Facebook profile. It’s like our very own non-celebrity People.com or US Weekly. We post ultra-flattering photos and compose status updates that practically scream, “Look at my fabulous life!” It’s akin to having a personal PR campaign. I am utterly guilty of this, and when I think about it, I feel a self-repulsive shiver.
Few people ever post honest struggles or content that would put them in an unfavorable light. I agree with this to a point; after all, not everyone should enter our dark places, and perhaps Facebook is light-hearted enough that we should keep it positive.
But the point stands: we seek to be adored.
Cough, cough…this blog…cough, cough.
I mean, honestly. I am not going to avoid admitting I enjoy that people read Words Become One. If I were to balk at myself right now, you wouldn’t even buy it.
Besides, blogs are naturally muddy waters because it is not possible for any blogger, however humble, to pretend that their site does not begin and end with him or her. She is writing from her frame of reference, about her thoughts, in her own life. Whether it’s a news analysis blog or a mommy blog — it is unavoidably about the writer.
So what to do about it? How does anyone conquer this need to gather the masses in praise of oneself? What will convince Richard Heene that he should get a job like any other father, rather than seek fame to his family’s detriment?
Practicing the art of humility would seem most obvious, but it is also quite difficult because as soon as we’ve done it we have the tendency to destroy it by thinking, “Hurray! I’m being humble!” If you can avoid that catch-22, please tell me how. It’s very annoying.
Worshiping God is one weapon in this inner battle. Through giving honor to Him rather than to myself or others, I realize that He is infinitely deserving of my admiration. My own flaws and faults, by comparison, make me slightly ill. And I want to be idolized? Barf.
For now, I will do one small part by ricocheting this me-me-me blog into new territory. I am handing Words Become One over to a guest blogger next week. I will not reveal who this blogger is until next Wednesday, but trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
Neither will I. After all, I chose the writer. (Because remember, it’s all about me.)