The paparazzi would have had a field a day: Right before our eyes, a very public couple reunited after a nasty public split that recently hounded newsstands everywhere. At a fancy Santa Barbara resort this past weekend, my fellow resort-goers and I watched this couple canoodle as they played by the pool and walked entwined down romantic paths. The resort was wild with celebrity gossip.
The scenario caused me to question why any of should care about the private lives of the famous. After all, don’t we have exciting lives of our own? What, in fact, does our voracious appetite for celebrities truly mean about us?
Without question, our love of a celebrity’s downward spiral is understandable enough – social psychology tells us that focusing on anyone down on their luck makes us feel better about our own lives. Yet tabloid readers and those fascinated by the ins-and-outs of celebrity romance aren’t exclusively drawn to the negative. In fact, they often are equally interested in hearing about celebrity events related to marriage, childbirth, and other milestones.
As I consider the issue, I recall something an old clinical mentor of mine once said: Every time you idealize someone else, you necessarily devalue yourself. It’s my belief that one’s interest in and fascination with celebrity life indicate that individual’s own boredom with his or her own life. Though he or she may reject this notion on its surface, somehow celebrity life must seem more interesting – otherwise, people wouldn’t care.
If you are a tabloid reader or one prone to gossip about the lives of celebrities, take a moment to consider the nature of your interest. Give yourself a break and trust that the number of homes or staff a celebrity boasts has little to do with how inherently valuable or interesting that person is independent of all of the external attributes. In the end, despite all the superficially exciting accoutrements, my guess is that the celebrity couple that created so much buzz this past weekend may feel just as inadequate as the tabloid readers who idealize them.