Being famous certainly seems to have its perks: plenty of adoring fans, the ability to get almost anything you want on demand, and a hefty bank account doesn't sound so bad either.
Thanks to things like social media, it’s easier than ever to get 15 minutes in the spotlight — however dubious that may be.
As a result, there's more of an obsession with fame these days, says Dr. Mathieu Deflem, a sociology professor at the University of South Carolina. "Anything is treated in celebrity terms, whether it is a pop star, a politician, a private citizen or the journalist reporting on the phenomenon."
You can be famous just for being famous, without having talent or a genuine motive, adds clinical psychologist Henry Cloud. "Fame seductively promises people that it can fulfill some true longing that it never can, such as the need to matter to other people, to have power and meaning."
But, whether it’s being the viral video star of the week or a distinguished performer, celebrity often comes at a not-so-glamorous price Privacy, loyalty and one’s "real–self" is often lost under the bright lights.
A publicist who works with one of today’s top pop stars says she doesn’t know when or if her famous client will ever be able to go anywhere or do anything without being analyzed over what he says, does or acts.
The life of a celebrity can be an extremely lonely one despite being "popular," adds Kinsey Schofield, a social media expert who consults many public figures. "You become hypersensitive to what is said about you. Your circle of friends becomes much smaller and you always find yourself playing the role of what people want because you’re afraid of being irrelevant or normal again."
Dr. Cloud adds that when the attention starts to wear off, the underlying condition like depression or loneliness can appear, so the person needs another fix. "Think about it: If fame or fortune could satisfy, why do so many celebrities end up in rehab or broken relationships?" asks Cloud.
But Deflem says it's important to remember that fame is all cultural, and that can be healthy.
"It allows cultures to celebrate and/or vilify certain people so that the rest of society can march on as usual," Deflem explains. "There is also an entire industry involved with it, so it even generates wealth."
It is great when people become famous for doing great things, as they can model for us what good accomplishment looks like, says Dr. Cloud. "Fame can be great when it is highlighting true value, not just fame for fame’s sake."