Do you remember watching Britney Spears on TV when you were younger? You wanted to be just like her, singing and dancing at the MTV Music Awards with thousands of adoring fans screaming your name.
Or maybe it was Kobe Bryant. You wanted to slash to the rim and dunk over other superstars in the NBA Finals, in front of an audience of millions.
You wanted to be famous and you wanted to be influential, just like those figures mentioned above.
I don’t blame you. I wanted (and still want) to be famous and influential. It’s part of human nature.
As humans, we have this innate need for attention. For the most part, we like to be recognized for our work, for our beauty, for our personality; for something. Whatever it is that we own or have accomplished in this life, we need that feeling of validation.
And just as we’ve needed this feeling of validation since the Stone Age, we also need this feeling of validation in the Information Age.
You’ve probably heard talk about how our generation (Gen Y) is becoming more and more narcissistic, and that may very well be true.
Consider this story for example:
I don’t normally spend much time in Duke’s Law School, but the Law Library is a great place to study during finals. Finals that semester were particularly tough, and I had been awake for 48 consecutive hours. Tired, I walked up the stairs, pushed open the double doors, and then proceeded to use the bathroom, not sure of where I was going.
As I walked in, the first thing I noticed was that there were no urinals.
That’s odd I thought. Unperturbed, I finished my business, washed my hands, and then walked out, only to see a female pass my by and look at me very strangely.
What’s her deal? I remembered thinking.
And then by chance I glanced up, and saw that I had just used the “Ladies” bathroom.
Instead of being embarrased, I was thought it was incredibly funny, and posted it to my Facebook.
So tired that I just walked into the Ladies bathroom in the Law School Libs. LOL!!!
Or something like that.
Within minutes, I had about 10 comments that read, “Hahaha”, “LOL!!!”, “You so stoop!!” and “You would do that!”
While your status updates may never be as extreme as mine was, at some point (probably today even), you’ve posted an update that you knew/hoped would get liked, commented on, or retweeted.
You wanted to create something memorable, so that people could look back and say, “remember when you said that?”
And that, is the whole idea behind fame and influence: legacy.
People will always remember Britney Spears because she makes great (depends on your taste in music) pop music and continues to influence generations of teen girls.
And people will always remember Kobe Bryant as being one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and for inspiring a generation of kids to shoot turnaround jumpers in their backyards.
We, as humans strive for influence because if we can have an impact on a certain number of people, then that many more people will remember us after we are gone.
It doesn’t have to be millions, thousands, or even hundreds. We just need to exert enough influence so that someone remembers us after we are dead and gone.