Friday, October 21, 2011

Stop Calling Them "Role Models"

role model 
a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.

any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion.

Look at the two definitions and pay attention to the difference in keywords. The words that stand out to me: "emulated" and "admiration."

I grew up watching violent movies from a Clint Eastwood western to a Charles Bronson detective movie. But, I never broke the law or felt the need to carry a gun.

I grew up listening to rap music from Ice-T, NWA and 2 Live Crew. But, I never got my ear pierced, wore a high-top fade or disrespected authority or women.

I grew up watching sports with Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan and Lawrence Taylor. But, I never started a fight, waited in line for a pair of shoes or even considered even trying a drug.

I kept entertainment separate from real life. Kids today do not. They look at the people on TV as role models instead of idols. My role models were members of my family. I thought my father and my brother were the coolest men on the planet because not only did they have impressive characteristics about themselves, they were real. I could touch them. I knew they loved me and cared for my well-being. I could spend time with them and be entertained.

Lil' Wayne doesn't care about your child lowering his / her income potential with each visible tattoo they get. Sean "P-Diddy" Combs could care less if his clothes causes you to have NSF fees on your checking account. Shaunie O'Neal doesn't lose sleep when your daughter fights with her friend-girls and emasculates her man. They don't even know that your child exists.

So why do kids emulate them? Why not emulate someone who actually can show them that they care? A mother. A father. A sibling. A relative or friend.

I am who I am today because my family raised me. These kids are who they are today because their TV raised them. Teach them the difference between a role model and an idol.


  1. Awww snap. I'm white and even *I* had a fade back in the 90's!

  2. @ LiI - MC Serch would have been proud!

  3. BAHAHAHA! B had a fade!!

    Okay...I agree wholeheartedly about today's kids not knowing where to draw the line. Buuuuuuttt...having said that, I also have several tatts, sport fly gear, have gotten some "trendy" hair-dos and some of that other "shallow" stuff, I guess you could say. The difference is, my tatts won't affect my income earning potential bc they're not visible in the corporate setting, I CAN afford my fly gear.

    When I was younger, I had role models that I couldn't "touch" but they were people like Mary Lou Retton (work hard for what you want...and you TOO can stick the landing on that vault to win the gold! lol). As I got older, I made my role models the people who mentored me at work and allowed me to grow my career potential. I think I have a balanced group of role models that I can't "touch" (inspirational people like combat vets who come back from war missing limbs and emotionally scarred - but get out and do motivational speaking to rally people for causes like Wounded Warriors) and people that I know in real life (people at work who mentor me and continue to help me reach my potential).

    I LOATHE the fact that we put celebrities and athletes on pedestals that they DON'T deserve. And it pains me to see kids talk about these dolts like they're "inspirational." Vomit. Then again...I AM 40 now, so I think I'm supposed to think "today's kids just don't get it." Isn't that a rite of passage into middle age?! LOL

  4. @ Reck - Mary Lou Retton had the best smile on TV. And I'm not saying tatts and name-brand gear are bad, but there's a time and place for everything. Also, visible tatts can be a problem when it comes to getting a job unless you can dribble a basketball. :)

    Great comment!

  5. TQ. For the most part I agree with you.

    However, my grandmother:

    1. Started me on magic mushroom potions at a very early age, and gave me the seeds for my very first pot plants,
    2. Taught me to cuss,
    3. Gave me a twenty-dollar bill for my sixteenth birthday and said, "Now go on down to New Waiver Laredo and meet yerself a nice girl. Jist don't be comin' back with a snotty pecker,",
    4. Helped me choose which Dali melting clock to use as the pattern for my first tattoo.

    Oh yea, and when I woke up still alive in a world that hadn't ended this am, she was already sitting at the breakfast table with the once bright-eyed UT student in the chair beside her. The poor kid gave new meaning to the term "Rode hard and put up wet".

    Then again, she taught me to be honest, thoughtful, hard-working and compassionate.

    Maybe it's the yin/yang doing its magic. More thought required.

  6. @ Mooner - Maybe grandma isn't the best example in your situation. LOL!

  7. I'll admit it. I had the fade way back when. There are pictures to prove it (which I'll never share). I'll get ink one day (if my wife ever lets me).

    I think kids today see these celebs as role models because they either don't have or don't accept the ones they do have in their lives. It's sad, really.

  8. @ Vinny - Yep, it's sad. I just don't think kids should have ink at such an early age. I also think that kids don't even think of the hard work these performers put in to get where they are. They just see the rewards.

  9. I may admire certain people in the media eye but I do not emulate them. I have always been one to go against the norm. If I see a whole bunch of people doing something (for me it was second holes in ears, tattoos, or certain clothing trends) I would wait a good number of months into the popularity and low and behold...I thought they were stupid and didn't do it! I've never been a trend follower and a lot of trends are celebrity driven.

    I think the kids today are following celebrity trends more because they spend more time with the celebrities and less with parents. By this I mean more with the TV, music, and video games as an escape and start to relate to them more. They start a fantasy in their head where they have an actual connection with that person.

  10. @ Jewels - Well said. They act as if they truly know these people on TV because of the in-depth details they get from them from TV and social networks.

  11. Preach!!! I couldn't agree more with this post. You broke it down. Diddy does not care about your NSF fees - just keep sporting Sean John. All of these people do what they do to make money. That's their bottom line. What affect it has on your children is not their concern.

  12. @ Cam - Thanks. You're right. They act like they care by showing up at Occupy Wall Street and things of that nature, but they only want your cash. I'm all for making money, but not when it's crippling a society.


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