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Come Get Your 15 Minutes of Fame

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So stop wasting your time becos you're way out of line,
it's all imaginary fame,
you're not wearing a crown
and the only place you'll ever be famous in is in your own brain

fifteen minutes of being famous
A whole lifetime of being aimless
fifteen minutes of being famous You're on your way to fame
A whole lifetime of being aimless you've made yourself a name
"15 Minutes of Fame" – Clawfinger

I often wonder about the world we’ve created, the world outside my window. Looking back over my shoulder at the days gone by, we sure are a long way from the milkman in the crisp, white uniform delivering freshly filled glass bottles to the doorstep and families loading into the just washed and waxed two-door Packard sedan for a Sunday drive.
People said hello to each other, asked how you were doing, and meant it. People responded to a question with a “yes sir,” or a “yes ma ‘am,” and manners were something people actually strived for.

And humility. Humility in all things — in excess, in accomplishment, in deed – you did what you did because it was the right thing to do, not because you were looking for your 15-minutes of fame.

Not that I long for days yesteryear, I certainly don’t. Rose-tinted glasses make everything seem better, and I’m no fool to think that 50 or 60 years ago were all just some sock-hop halcyon period. I know that those periods had their share of problems. Heck, most of the problems we think about and talk about today were alive and well during that bygone era. Maybe it’s more accurate to call it a problem of scale.

For every one clown back “in the day” who acted like a baby when he didn’t get what he wanted or the attention he felt he deserved, these days there seems to be 100.

You went out and competed in something. Didn’t take first, second, or even fifth, just competed and you did not think you deserved to be on the evening news — for what? For having a pulse and showing up? Your car got broken into and you're mad because it wasn’t on the front page of the paper, or worse, they didn’t talk specifically to YOU when a rash of car thefts hit the area like a tornado rolling over the land. Them rat scallions down at the news desk; they may have spoke to 15 other souls who’ve suffered but they didn’t talk to you and you're as mad as hell about it.

I’d like to blame our reality-TV obsessed, instant gratification, opinion-based journalism that so controls our culture — have it your way, right away. With YouTube and I-Reporters and the plethora of self-publishing tools, and while media organizations clamor for that “eye-witness” account, everyone is in the game of the 15-minute spotlight – just ask that family down in Fort Collins about balloons. A word of advice on that one; I wouldn’t suggest you ask them about child raising…I’m just saying.

But truth of the matter is I can’t. For all those things rely on one thing – you, and you, and me (Okay, that’s three things, actually it’s millions, but you get the point). They require that each one of us individually tune in and add to the ratings. If no one watched American Idol or Big Brother or Flavor of Love, those shows would be in the can faster than you could say ratings dive. Shows that aren’t watched can’t sell ad-space; ad-space pays for the programming; no ratings to sell the ad-space, no show — it’s a simple calculus really. Opinion based journalism wouldn’t rule the day if it didn’t serve to make somebodies rich.

So we're the responsible party, by what we do and what we watch and how we respond, yet no one wants to take responsibility for that. Blame the video game when little Johnny shoots up the local high school – little Johnny probably needed help long before he started playing Call of Duty, blame the devil-music when little Janie commits suicide – little Janie was probably depressed long before she started spinning Judas Priest records, or blame the fast-food giants when little Timmy is fat — not obese, fat – if you’re buying husky sizes for your two-year old, it’s probably not McDonalds’ fault.

There’s a fine line between clever marketing and out and out lying. As supposedly educated individuals, we should be easily able to discern the sizzle from the steak. So instead of getting angry and huffing and puffing around like the big, bad wolf — shut-up, turn it off, cancel your subscription. And when you’re done, think about it – are you part of the problem? Did you earn whatever accolades you think you did? No, I mean REALLY earn it.

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