If there’s one thing I want you to keep in mind today, it’s this: Just because someone is famous, just because someone has a lot of admirers, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t fallible in one way or another.
It’s far too easy to pedestal our leaders. Or to decide that just because someone’s famous that they are in a class all of their own. That because they seem special that they’re perfect.
And it seems like every day I log in to social media to see one or more of my friends bemoaning the news that someone they once looked up to has some kind of fatal flaw. That they’re “canceled.”
It’s interesting to watch, the depth of the disappointment — even grief — a friend can go through as they come to terms with the fact that their hero made a small, medium, or large mistake (depending on the circumstance). And watching their reactions to their hero’s handling of the crisis. Nearly always, this is deemed to be either a non-handling or a poor handling of said crisis. The majority of responses are deemed insufficient regardless of their approach (sadly, research shows that people can be very unforgiving once a mistake has been made).
And as the whole process unfolds, I’ll inevitably watch a friend suffer because their expectations of this beloved stranger failed to match up with the reality.
Even Monkeys Have Celebrities
Having witnessed this cycle many times and how painful it can be, it’s enough to make me want to caution others against having heroes in the first place.
The only trouble is that it would be a futile endeavor.
We’re hardwired to be on the lookout for exceptional others. To have heroes. To always be looking for the Biggest, Best Monkey…err, Human.
Because research has shown that even monkeys have celebrities. Or at least high-status monkeys that other monkeys will emulate.
So instead, that’s what I tell myself whenever a hero does something disappointing: “Even monkeys have celebrities.”
This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.