I just heard another American Idol contestant was kicked off the show for reportedly lying about his past. It seems nearly every season the show disqualifies a contestant for glossing over life details that violate the show’s rules.
But as we know, in Hollywood, skeletons always come out of the closet. Reporters and paparazzi are paid to dig up dirt, so if it’s there they’re bound to find it. But that’s not what really bothers me. What bothers me is what all of this lying and cheating represents. It’s something that is becoming far too common in our society. In fact, I believe in many ways our culture is breeding it.
We’re obsessed with success and taught to do whatever it takes to get there.
When fame and fortune are the goal, you must pull out all the stops. After all, it’s a dog-eat-dog world and if you’re not willing to do it, there’s someone else nipping at your heals who gladly will. All you have to do is look around to find evidence of this no-holds-barred obsession with success, money, and fame everywhere.
It starts young…
From striving for gold stars on our elementary school assignments, to winning Little League trophies, kids are indoctrinated to the idea of competition from the moment they step into the classroom or onto a sports field. And, well-meaning teachers and parents are usually their biggest cheerleaders. I’m concerned we may not realize the long-term effects of this on our children.
We see it on TV…
Turn on the television and you find popular reality shows such as Lifetime’s Dance Moms and TLC’s Toddlers & Tiara’s, going to the extreme coaching and grooming young girls to be winners. We may laugh it off as entertainment, but George Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory suggests that what we watch on television shapes our culture. With reality TV shows occupying five of the top 10 ratings slots in the 2010-2011 season, one has to wonder what impact this is having on our world.
Our schools perpetuate it…
In many high schools more focus is placed on standardized test scores than on providing a well-rounded education. School has become a ratings game, too, yet it doesn’t appear to be resulting in smarter students. Sadly, according to a 2006 Junior Achievement Teen Ethics Poll, 44 percent of teens feel a strong pressure to succeed in school, no matter the cost, with more than one in ten students believing they must cheat to be successful.
And adults are not immune
One only has to look around at the corporate greed scandals of recent years, and the collapse of the real estate and mortgage industries to find examples of adults so focused on money and success that they were willing to cut corners—and break laws—in order to achieve both.
We’re raised with the message that if we want to succeed we must be willing to do whatever it takes. I’ve heard success coaches tell people they must live as if they are wealthy if they want to attract abundance (unfortunately this attitude has driven many into foreclosure and bankruptcy). The focus seems to be on getting there instead of living now. I worry that as a result we may be creating a competitive world rather than a caring one. A world where too many people are more focused on getting what’s theirs rather than doing what’s right.