Do you know what happens when a famous person enters a room? The mood changes instantly, like the place has been doused in adrenaline. There is an electricity in the air. Everyone suddenly becomes aware of every movement that they make, what they say, and how they sound. There is this undercurrent of nervous energy that most will try to suppress, but it’s there and you can feel it. Deep down, the majority of the people in that room would like to be noticed by the famous person. Why is that?
Why do people want selfies and signatures and try to touch these “stars”? What is the reason for wanting to start fights on Twitter or spread false rumors about those in the public eye? Why do so many of us have this “love/hate” relationship with celebrities? The reason is actually quite simple. Because every single one of us has an ego. We often only associate celebrities with having an ego, but everyone on this planet is influenced by their personal ego. And there are two main things that our ego does: it either tells us that we are better than, or less than someone. The ego categorizes ‘’greater’’ and ‘’lesser’’ people. The famous person is seen as ‘’greater’’ and being worth more than others due to our societal frameworks. The ego of the person encountering this celebrity believes that by association—be it a selfie, a signature, a one-night-stand, a Twitter spat, or some other form of connection—it can itself become more.
When I was an MTV VJ, people’s reactions to me used to really confuse me and none more so than those of ‘’negative fans’’; that breed of people that these days have evolved into ‘’trolls’’. I once had one following me down the street saying,
‘‘I really hate it when I see you on TV. I always turn it off when you’re on. You are the worst of all the VJs.’’
I kept wondering why, if he hated me so much, he kept following me. But now I understand.
First of all, a negative reaction is a reaction nonetheless—this is why children like to wind up their parents, especially when they are not getting the positive attention that they crave. Second of all, by trying to put someone like me down—someone who was on television and therefore considered to be ‘’greater than’’ most—he himself could now imagine himself as ‘’greater than’’ me because he felt that he was dominating me. What an ego boost! And how pathetic! Yet, there I was, trying to stay positive, whilst someone was literally walking behind me saying,
‘‘You’re useless! You suck at your job! You have no talent!’’
This, obviously, fired up my own negative ego, the part of me that wants to tell me that I am ‘’less than’’ others. Stand-up comedian Romesh Ranganathan has a perfect name for this – he calls it his ‘’inner bastard’’. It is the part of our ego that is always lurking in the shadows, waiting to pound on us, waiting for any misstep, any outside criticism, anything that it can use as ammunition to knock us down. So, as this guy was following me and insulting me, my inner bastard chimed in,
‘’See? People hate you. You’re a fraud! You have no talent. You have no right to be on television.’’
I assume that you hear some version of this voice in your own head from time to time. That voice that tells you that you are not good enough, that you are simply unlovable. And this is the problem with being famous; a million people can tell you that you are great, but the one person that says, ‘’I hate you’’ is the one that you remember because it is the one that your inner bastard latches onto as it joins in,
‘’See? You really are useless! I told you that you had no talent.’’
Any outside criticism confirms the put-downs that your inner bastard has been throwing at you all of your life. Even a seasoned performer like Barbra Streisand still struggles with this. She got to the point where she simply stopped reading reviews and articles about herself, because even just a single point of criticism was too painful to bear.
These days, it has become virtually impossible for celebrities to escape their negative fans. They are now on their Twitter feed, on their Instagram; they are everywhere! Constantly whispering in their ears,
‘’You are useless. Nobody loves you. You have no talent.’’
I can’t even imagine what that must feel like. Thank god, I stepped out of the limelight before the age of social media. I now live a quiet and peaceful life. The only twitters that whisper in my ears are the twitters of the tropical birds here in the jungles of Belize. They tell me nothing about myself, nothing negative and nothing positive, they just are. And they are giving me, also, the chance to just be.
Now, do remember, if you ever make it into the limelight, and if people then react strongly to you—be it positively or negatively—that they are not really reacting or even seeing you, only the version of you that they have created in their own mind. It is not really who you are. And take comfort in the fact that, when they are overreacting to you, it has everything to do with them—not you—as they are doing so out of their own ego, in a desperate attempt to become more.
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”