Friday, July 24, 2009

Spreading Fame, Money and Happiness On The Internet

Anyone who attended the recent Youtube-led 789gathering in New York can attest that fame, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and spreads especially quickly on the internet. Did you know that Youtube actually sponsors (i.e. pays salaries to) top video makers? Youtube video stars were out in force earlier this month of July, 2009, in Central Park to the delight of many fans at the conference event.

Imagine my surprise to hear exactly a claim that was leveled at the internet in its early years, echoed by Julia Child, one of the first and most successful of all food show stars. She says in her autobiography, My Life in France

that in 1962, she:

"knew nothing at all about television -- other than the running joke that this fabulous new medium would thrive on how-to and pornography programs."

Fleeting fame being created on the internet is inspiring the study of fame as a new field of exploration in psychology. Who knew?

"A new psychology study helps explain why some stars burn bright, long, long after their talent has faded – if it ever was there to begin with.

Simply put, says Nathanael Fast of Stanford University in California, people need something to talk about. The human desire to find common ground in conversation pushes us to discuss already popular people, he says."...

Mark Schaller, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, agrees..."It does provide an answer to the question of why fame is self-perpetuating, even when the famous person isn't doing anything fame-worthy anymore." What is less clear is how people, ideas and practices become prominent in the first place, Schaller says.
New Scientist

Is Sarah Palin's "famous at being famous" talent encouraging ongoing media scrutiny? Many journalists and television entertainers have stabilized their careers on Palin impersonations and commentary. Could Palin discourage the media at her will or pleasure?

It's clear that the more we learn about happiness and the ways we learn to achieve it the happier we'll be. Those of us who are less famous can take comfort in a Stanford study that suggests:

Having lots of money, good looks and fame may sound like a sure ticket to happiness, but a new study suggests otherwise...“The attainment of extrinsic, or ‘American Dream,’ goals does not contribute to happiness at all in this group of people, but it actually does contribute to some ill being”

said study author Edward Deci, a psychology professor. The study is published in the June issue of The Journal of Research in Personality. Perhaps this study could apply to overpaid company executives.

Most people who both have had and haven't had money agree that it's preferable to have money. Not having any money can contribute to depression.

An excellent new paperback called "Welcome To Your Brain" by Princeton Psychology professor Sam Wang,

and psychologist Sandra Aamodt suggests ways to lift mild depression.

Focus on positive events:

"Every evening for a month, write down three good things that happened that day and explain what caused each of them. This exercise increased happiness and reduced symptoms of mild depression within a few weeks, and the effects lasted for six months, with particularly good outcomes for people who continued to do the exercise."

Three other ways they suggest to achieve happiness are to:

1) sleep well; it's a bigger determinant of happiness than higher income

2) have sex, even alone; it rates higher than socializing with friends

3) set and achieve realistic goals.

Fame, money, happiness. What is your secret desire?

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