Popularity And Fame Can Be A Deadly Drug


Dear Businessologist,

I have a big following on Instagram and Twitter. The number is in 5 digits each. I’d say, thanks to my habit of spending hours daily socialising. I’m too obsessed with getting popular and possessing as many followers on social media as possible. Lately, things are taking a toll on my mental. I began to feel sloppy, neglecting my family as a mother and daughter, and my customers as a business person. Complaints are coming from my family for various reasons, and from the customers too for being careless and again sloppy on the deliverables. I truly wish to go back to being normal, be a good mom, a good daughter and a good business person I used to enjoy but I can’t shake this wanting-to-be-a-celebrity habit off. The mobile phone is always in my hand, wherever I go. How can I change, what should I do?

Clarissa from Ang Mo Kio, Singapore

Dear Clarissa,

Popularity and fame can be a deadly drug. Read that again. While the word and meaning of fame are easily understood, the word drug is ambiguous. Why? Simply because from a clinical standpoint, it doesn’t necessarily mean the pills which come in a bottle, and are required to be consumed 3-time a day.

The drug is a substance that keeps you high, it could be something you crave constantly, it’s something you are dependent on for the right or wrong reasons, it’s something your brain says you need; often badly and desperately, so much so you would go to any length to get it. You would pay, you would sacrifice your energy, time, and any resource you have just to satisfy the need to have that drug.

In this instance Clarissa, your drug is the need to be famous and popular. But why?

How is being popular helpful to you? Did it help you to double or triple your income? Or maybe you’ve got more admirers and fans out there who’ve contributed to your success. What value do these thousands of followers bring to you and is this value worth more than what’s important to you in life such as your own family, personal security, privacy, health, mental and emotional well-being? These are the first and most important questions only you can honestly answer.

The second point to ponder. You admitted that you are currently struggling with the complaints, mental anguish and so on. The good part is that you can recognise the fact that you have a problem. Indirectly, you understand it big enough to warrant help. Hence, the question is how bad do you want the problem to be solved? Are you prepared to make sacrifices and changes?

If it’s a Yes then it’s a good sign and many little steps towards positive changes can be drawn up. Remember, changes are only good if you agree to them and want to make them slowly and gradually. If your answer is a No, then you will slowly spiral deeper into what you are currently facing and chances are you might lose what’s important to you. Is the ‘celebrity’ status worth losing everything important to you? Again only you can answer this honestly.

Let’s park this aside Clarissa. Let’s look at some celebrities who allowed fame to rob their lives. Fame leads to suicide, depression, and anxiety if you’re not strong. The fame that shocked the world. Big names come to mind; Whitney Houston, Kate Spade, Robin Williams and Anthony Bourdain amongst others. They all had hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of fans, who cried for a short period and moved on. The impact and loss were most felt by the family and loved ones they left behind.

The real question here is; they are so very famous and rich with tons of followers, admirers, and fans around the world but why were they miserable? Having thousands of followers indirectly has already brought you a little fame. But what’s next? Popularity truly has no end just like the need for more money. The more you have the more you want. I love the two questions you asked; what can I do, and how can I change?

There’s nothing wrong with building and growing followers. It is great for your business and you already have a good base there. If you know how to mobilise them for some benefit that could fuel your business to grow, then it is awesome. For example, your followers can help engage and promote your business.

Besides focusing on building your business via social media, you can spend your precious time online learning something new too. There are many great inputs in there; from children’s education right up to recipes to cook for the family, financial stuff, jokes to lighten up your day and others. Engage these thousands of your followers to run good campaigns to raise awareness for your business. Your engagement is still relevant. You want to be a celebrity for the right reasons. Keep your status as a celebrity that fuels your business to grow.

Yet, remember this. Understand those important people at home that you simply can not take for granted. Limit your time online and carve some time out for them. You are always a celebrity in their heart. They too need you to be by their side. The best way to do this is to set a timetable. No handphones during meals. Each day a few good solid hours just to converse with your children and parents. Once a week, allocate three hours to do simple things like groceries and window shopping with your parents, or in-laws. Exercising, date nights, and walks in the park minus the gadgets with your spouse. Don’t forget self-care. If you’re unhappy, everything else is not smooth and everyone else is equally unhappy. Don’t be the reason for others’ unhappiness. Block out your me-time. Facial, that’s 2 hours of not looking at the device for sure. Join pilates or a gym.

Silence in social media is needed if you are human. There’s no need to instantly reply to every single comment that comes your way.

Finally, it all boils down to this – balance. Knowing that you have a problem and talking about it is very different from knowing you have a problem, identifying solutions, and doing something with those solutions to solve the problem. Many can help. There are umpteen resources or materials available out there. And there are guides and tools too. The question is, do you want to be helped? Can you be disciplined enough to make all the sacrifices and make those changes to be normal again?

If there’s a will, there’s always a way. With the end goal of being a happy contended Clarissa in mind, start drawing up a simple plan. That’s enough to a good start. Good luck.

This answer was furnished by Dato’ ‘Aliyah Karen. She is the Founding Chairperson of the Yayasan Health On World (YHOW) or the Health On World Foundation. YHOW advocates the importance and holistic balance of every individual’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being.

If you have a problem or a challenge in your business, write to Businessologist here. The entrepreneurship journey can be tough sometimes. Worry not, he is here to help. Share with him as much as you possibly can about the issues you’re facing, but not too detailed though. This is to avoid any issues in the future. He or his associates will attempt to answer via an in-depth article. It will be published here on 300th. We only use your first name or nickname to honour your privacy.

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