Thursday, March 14, 2024

Seeking fame and fortune

A couple of interesting things came across my computer in the past week – funny how things "cluster" sometimes – that I wouldn't mind reader opinions on. The subject is those seeking fame and fortune. One case involves "influencers," the other involves a singing career.

I don't follow any influencers, but as a category they're received a bad rap (or maybe "annoying rap" is more accurate) over the last few years. Influencers are known to disrupt restaurants, gyms, grocery stores, and other public places for their antics. They often reek of entitlement, such as offering to "collaborate" with restaurants or businesses for freebies in exchange for "exposure."

People will often do the strangest things to get attention. Consider this article documenting how people (usually women) in Palm Beach, Florida will dress up in designer clothes and hang around street corners for hours in a desperate bid to get noticed by some local who started a "best dressed" social media account.

The article says: "Palm Beachers are desperate to make it on the glitzy beach city's unofficial best-dressed list to show off their glamorous clothes and designer accessories. The South Florida beach town is known for its posh residents, but now there is a new social status symbol residents can aspire to - being feature on 'Class of Palm Beach.' Class of Palm Beach, which has amassed millions of views on TikTok, parades the town's best dressed and asks them where they bought their chic outfits from.

"The wildly popular social media page is the brainchild of one Millennial resident, who often found herself stopping wealthy people on the street and asking which designer shops they had bought their clothes and accessories from. Some Palm Beachers have become so determined to make an appearance on the account – which has 672,000 followers – that they wait on the busiest avenue for hours in the hopes of being noticed by the page's in-demand admin."

(Honestly, folks, don't you have anything better to do with your time?)

That said, presumably there's something to "influencing" if people can earn a living from it. Shrug. Not my cup of tea, but whatever.

This leads to a random article I came across in which a mother was seeking advice concerning her teenage daughter who wanted to become an influencer.  She wrote:

"How do you talk to your kids about how social media isn’t a measure of their worth? I am a single mother to two daughters, “Carina” (19), and “Kylie” (23). When the girls were younger, I limited their access to social media. However, Kylie has always had a passion for social media, and the summer after she graduated from high school, she began a lifestyle/vlogging YouTube channel that quickly amassed hundreds of followers. Now, she is a fairly popular influencer making good money across several platforms. This inspired Carina, who believed that anyone could make a livable wage off social media if they put in enough work. She too began a YouTube channel after she turned 18, and I’m now worried that she may have become too obsessed with gaining followers and likes.

"Every day, Carina laments that her channels aren’t gaining traction like her sister’s. Whenever she comes out of her room in the morning, she’s always on her phone or comparing her account to other vloggers in a similar age bracket. She posts content almost every day, then gets upset when it gets hardly any views or likes. I’m genuinely alarmed at the downturn that her mental well-being has taken, and I’ve tried to talk to her about how her worth isn’t tied to what people 1,000 miles away think of her internet persona. It falls on deaf ears. Kylie has had the same conversation with Carina, which just made Carina angry because she thought that Kylie was just trying to “eliminate the competition.”

"Because Carina is an adult, I can’t just take away her social media. I understand that I could stop her from having access to it (my friend has suggested that I change the WiFi password, threaten to evict her, etc.) but I’m worried that forcing her hand might push her away and limit my ability to help her. On the other hand, I know I’m not being very useful right now! I’m scared for my daughter and I could really use some advice."

The answer the advice columnist gave this mother was to gently steer her daughter into other interests, including a job, in an effort to break the daughter's obsession.

And that's the first thing I wouldn't mind reader input on. What advice would you give a mom whose adult teen daughter is obsessed with this career choice?

Not quite in the "influencer" category but still in the "seeking fame and fortune" mindset, consider this wail of worry from another mother of a teen daughter:

"My daughter Lailah is going to be a junior next year, and ever since she was little she LOVED watching shows like American Idol, The Voice, etc., and dreams of being a famous singer. While I think it's all well and good to sing as a hobby, she is simply not good at music.

"Lailah has a rather high-pitched voice, kind of like a cartoon or young toddler, and when she sings it sounds like nails on a chalkboard. I'm certain she's tone deaf, because she insists her voice is not high at all. I know that's awful as a mom to say, but it's true. We even hired a vocal coach before COVID and the lady outright told me she felt guilty about taking my money because [Lailah] "simply has no musical talent," in her words.

"She loves to sing at family events and it always results in chuckles at best or insults at worst from younger kids. She's always kept her head up and never let these comments get to her, which I admire a lot, but I wish she had more realistic adult plans by now.

"Lailah's grades have been struggling for years (mostly Ds) and we argue about it all the time. Her excuse is always "I don't need to learn this because I will be a famous singer!" This obsession has become a legitimate problem because she shoots down anything unrelated to singing when it comes to thinking about college or a job, which she also insists she will never need because one day she will become a world-famous singer.

"Today I told her she should be looking for a summer job and she again refused, and said now that she's old enough she wants to audition for a singing competition (undecided on which). I know these shows; most of them will have a poor-singer audition, only to mock them on TV.

"I'm not letting that happen to Lailah and told her I am no longer tolerating this obsession, and that she needs to apply herself in other areas soon if she hopes to get any sort of career, because she simply is not a good singer. She started bawling and called me an abusive mother. I feel like an a** now and am not sure if I should have handled this differently. Am I the [jerk]?"

The mother went on to answer questions from others, who made suggestions like having vocal coaches give the daughter their honest opinion to her face. The mother replied, "They have said it to her face, but she does not accept their input" and "I've done that. She still thought she sounded like Carrie Underwood" and "She took lessons a lot as a kid and has taken choir almost every year at school, and has been told honestly about her skills. She insists everyone is wrong."

Upon the suggestion the daughter should be recorded and let her listen to her own skills, the mother replied, "I've done that. She still does not get it, and even argues with music coaches."

One person responded, "I used to be a vocational employment specialist. ... You don't need to be the one to crush her dreams. You don't want to be. The best way to get through this, and to avoid backlash or appearing unsupportive, is to treat her aspirations as completely serious. Let her audition. Encourage her to put up videos on social media. Let her ram her head repeatedly into the wall until she gets tired of knocking herself out. And when she is good and ready, she'll quit, and you can be there, just as unwaveringly supportive as ever, when she moves onto the next, more realistic phase of life."

Others pointed out, "I used to wonder how all those horrible singers on American Idol got that far, thinking they were the next Whitney Houston. Someone should have told them before they embarrassed themselves in front of millions of people. You're protecting your child and that's exactly what you're supposed to do."

Both these mothers are facing the situation in which their daughters are infatuated with fame and fortune and are pursuing it obsessively. What advice would you give to either encourage or discourage these teenage girls' ambition?


  1. This was telling, "ever since she was little she LOVED watching shows like American Idol, The Voice, etc.,"

    Um, why would you allow your young child to LOVE watching ANY television, let alone "shows like American Idol, The Voice," etc????? A classic case of garbage in, garbage out, in my opinion.

    Maybe it's not helpful to point this out now that this poor mom is this far down that road, but she should have severely limited or eliminated screens from her daughter's life from day one.

    If you're a young parent let her story be instructive for you, . No screens until they're teens. At minimum. No screens but lots of outdoor time. Let your kids run and jump and build and risk and have adventures and make forts in the woods, etc. instead of shaping their thinking by the demonic rot taught through shows like American Idol and The Voice, etc.

    Unfortunately, once you've allowed the world to shape your child's thinking, it may be too late. As someone said, "If you send your child to Rome for her education, don't be surprised when she comes back Roman." These days, though, "Rome" should be substituted with "Marx."

    These moms should repent first before the Lord and then apologize to their children!

  2. Let them fail. We don't wrap toddlers in bubble wrap when they begin to walk. We may remove objects that present a danger, but we know they have to learn balance and movement. I'd also add, don't bankroll them. Once they are adults, they need to be buying their own clothes, paying their car insurance and gas, etc. It's one thing to be supportive, and something else when they refuse to find a job and pay their own expenses.

  3. "Influencer"? Some are influencers but some are using the internet as a side gig. I have a friend who made $22,000 last year from youtube videos. He gets money from YouTube, money from Amazon and money from half a dozen companies who products he reviews. Another friend won't tell me how much she makes but she greatly enjoys her hobby and sharing it on YouTube. She is a seamstress and makes clothing for reenactments. Neither of these two have ever touched politics or anything odd. I'm not sure "influencer" is the right name for what they do. For both it is a hobby that pays them a few dollars for their time.

  4. Maybe the girl that wants to sing needs a hearing test? Seriously, she could be missing certain frequency ranges that keeps her from hearing the whole thing. I myself have hearing issues and will hear a sound totally different than the person next to me.

  5. And then you have Taylor Swift, who supposedly sold her soul for fame and fortune.
    Parents let their children go to rack and ruin and Then want advice?
    At some point, each person becomes accountable to God for their actions. Adults, children, whatever. And we can't just change, presto bingo, another person. Or think up some manipulative ploy.
    I'm in the same camp as the first respondent. Especially the repenting and apologising to the child part. Lots of parents need to do that. Along with prayer time together. People who haven't been raised with Christ to center them, will build their lives around something else.

  6. I have followed and enjoyed your blog for years. I'm going to mention that the term "influencer" is being used a little broader than the phenomenon you're referring to. I think people tend to rear back in horror to be referred to as an "influencer", but are you a canning influencer? A rural living influencer? I can tell you, you surely have influenced my life in a VERY positive way over the years. It's not a bad thing. I was just debating this with my husband the other day, what is an influencer- I'm a physician and have a colleague who is very active on social media and is considered to be an "influencer" in our field- but my husband thinks "educator" is a better term.

  7. The first one that is competing with her sister: If she has graduated from high school and has no interest in going to further education, it is time the mother told her that she needs to pay rent and list the items that the rent will cover, such as utilities, food and anything else that the teen is getting. So it should be pay rent or move out. We did that with all our kids, they all managed. In fact my youngest, thinking that I would lament him moving out advised me that he would move out when he turned 18, I asked him how he would get back and forth to school considering that he turned 18 6 months prior to graduation. (Look of surprise here), oh yeah, then I will move out when I graduate. I replied great, I will help you move. He never expected that one and the look on his face was priceless. He did indeed move out and I helped as promised.
    To the aspiring singer I would at first go out of my way and get her an audition with whom ever is recruiting for doing voice overs. I would then tell my daughter that with such a unique voice she could start with that and work up from there. Show her a ladder and ask her to get to the top without starting at the bottom and remind her that that is how all the famous singers have done it. Again if she has already graduated start paying rent.

    1. For the second one, I *love* the voice acting suggestion (I just hope the girl would, too). Who says you need a "normal/classical/traditional" range for everything. Cree Summers, anyone?

  8. When my son was fourteen years old (He’s now thirty-seven.), he loved playing golf. He said that he wanted to be “the next Tiger Woods.” I told him to pursue his dream, but always have a backup plan to pay the bills in the meantime. I let him know that it would take time for him to make a living at playing golf. I took him to free lessons through the local park district. He tried out for the school golf team, and didn’t make it his freshman year of high school, but continued practicing and was on the team the rest of his years in school. During his senior year, he came to me and asked if I remembered the conversation I mentioned earlier. I told him that I did. He said, “Mom, now I know what you mean about that backup plan. Thanks for encouraging me instead of telling me that there was no way I could make a living playing golf.” He’s now an electrical lineman and plays golf for enjoyment, and he still mentions that conversation.

    1. I love that you told your son to have a "back up plan". As a mother of 5 I know that children cannot always be what they want. My 4th child asked me if she was the best drawer when she was like 6 or 7. I told her "No, your brother is better." She didn't like that fact & practiced & got better. She didn't pursue being an artist, but still paints, etc. Sometimes she gets upset that I didn't lie to her, but I didn't want her to think she was great at something she wasn't. So the person she is she worked harder & now is a good artist.
      Debbie in MA

  9. The singer's mom could suggest to her daughter that she take some business classes so she would understand contracts and financial obligations to support staff when she does become famous.

  10. I wonder where the fathers are in these cases? My only advice to these mothers would be: "Ask your husband and follow his advice".

  11. Mental midgets, both the individual and follower. Wait till things get harder, the culling will be massive

  12. I have two siblings who are profoundly gifted in the arts; one a musician and the other a writer. They’re also, by any empirical measurement, brighter than I. I also have talent, but only enough to realize I’m not *that* kind of talented.

    This is not a “poor me” post, as I enjoyed a nice career and am married to a man I adore - life has treated me well. But, as a teenager and older, my sainted parents attended my school plays (yes, I got roles), provided me with lessons, and listened to my foolish dreams. They always said I was just as talented as my siblings. Looking back, though, I wish I had gotten some home truths from my parents and teachers, that I’d always be a respectable second soprano in the church choir, but I wouldn’t me headlining at the Met. I might not have listened cheerfully at eighteen, but it might have saved me some wasted years trying to figure out what to do with my life after high school.

    So I’m in the camp of “be gentle, but honest - and consistent with your feedback”.