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At some point or another, I think we all imagine what it’d like to be rich and famous. Some would be happy with just money, others with just fame. When we think about celebrities we think of how easy and carefree their lives must be. Mainly because we are a society that mistakenly equates money with happiness. We fantasize about what it must be like to be adored by millions of people worldwide for whatever it is we do, or dream of doing. How surreal it must feel for people to admire you to the point they ask you to sign your name on something in cursive because that somehow is valuable to them. It must be overwhelming to have people stand in lines for hours just to take a picture with you. Those are the parts of fame we picture.

The parts we never consider or stop to think about is what it must be like to have millions of people you never met insult you for a reason neither of you quite understands on Twitter. Or how it feels to pour your heart and soul into a piece of art of any kind and have people who gave it half of glance tear it apart online and everywhere else. For those same people to feel like they can say anything they want to you or about you because they forget you’re even a human being. We skip right over all of that and focus on the glamour.

The cost of becoming successful to the point of fame is having any story your name is attached to go viral and take on a life of it’s own — whether it’s true or not — before you can so much as finish breakfast. Your every mistake, regardless of circumstance, will be scrutinized to the point of exhaustion along with every new piece of work you put out into the world. Entire hashtags and endless memes will be created around you and about you. Rarely will they be flattering. People on social media are cruel and cowardly.

All of this is not to say I sympathize with the rich and famous, especially not those who have done wrong. It’s just I feel like we as a society sometimes forget they’re just human beings like us. We don’t know them as people and they don’t owe us anything. They fall short, just like we do. As a famous person, often the worst thing you’ve ever done will be the thing you become best known for. It’s so easy for us to judge rather than empathize. We hold celebrities to a higher standard, as if they’re any different than us. I see people on social media and elsewhere who are so quick to criticize and can’t help but wonder how they’d feel if The New York Times was to post a story about the worst thing they ever did and what that story would look like.

How convenient it is for us to stop thinking of those who are famous as people so we can make a horrible joke on Twitter for attention from people we’ve never met. To lift ourselves up by kicking another while they’re down. Tearing someone else’s art apart is a lot easier than creating your own. Taking inventory of which famous person did what today isn’t difficult, it’s assessing who we truly are as people and what we’ve accomplished thus far or plan to that scares us and keeps us pointing fingers at those we see on TV in order to make us feel better about ourselves. We’re all human and we’re all flawed.

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