“Everybody Gets To Be A Star For Fifteen Minutes”

This is a quote made quite some time ago by the famous pop artist Andy Warhol. It was prescient in a way because it was made long before the Internet came along.

What I believe he meant by this was more philosophical than actual, in that it wasn’t so much about being a star as it was about the fifteen minutes, which metaphorically described a star going nova. In other words, once in your life you do something that makes you feel like a star, but by the very nature of the act itself, it is temporary.

Nowadays that meaning has changed a bit. Because there are an incredible number of people doing, well, just about anything to get enough attention and adulation to get in their fifteen minutes.

And it’s much easier for them to do this, with cameras on every phone, and social media depending on this ego-driven mania for all the free content that attracts scores of voyeurs and allows them to jack their advertising rates higher and higher.

One obsession feeds a form of greed, because the quest for that fifteen minutes of fame is, for too many people, an obsession.

Most of it seems like harmless posing and pranking. But then again how harmless is it, when it’s been proven conclusively that the comments that come back from these ‘harmless’ activities have led to depression and in some cases even suicide, and violent outbursts, including mass shootings?

Any need that a person may possess to be noticed in the world is amplified here. One false move can trigger a good deal of hate, resentment, jealousy, and even rage.

The selfie, which sounds like a harmless little thing on the surface, is really, for a lot of people, an expression of need. The need to be noticed. The need to be complimented. The need to be adored or loved.

And because there are so many outlets for people to indulge whatever need they are satisfying by doing it, the results are not always what they expect.

All the while people are feeding their egos, looking at themselves too much, and eventually, too many of them become obsessed with themselves, and the more obsessed they become the deep the cuts of anyone criticizing can be.

They all look so happy, posting those endless selfies, working hard to look appealing to the world at large so they can have their fifteen minutes and even more.

This has all been compounded by the fact that many social media sites have opened up the floodgates, so people everywhere are seeing more of the kind of stuff they never used to see before because one of their ‘friends’ commented or rated it.

And I don’t know about you, but most of what I see really disturbs me because it’s almost all about people doing whatever they think they need to do to capture their elusive fifteen minutes of stardom.

PS: Yeah, I could turn a lot of this stuff off I suppose, but because I am a writer, I have an instinctive curiosity about the human condition, and I find this aspect of it quite interesting. Scary as hell, but interesting.


Jim Murray
Jim Murray
I have been a writer since the age of 14. I started writing short stories and poetry. From there I graduated to writing lyrics for various bands and composers and feature-length screenplays, two of which have been produced. I had a  20-year career in senior positions in Canadian and multi-national agencies and a second career, which began in 1989, (Onwords & Upwords Inc), as a strategic and creative resource. Early in 2020, I closed Onwords & Upwords and effectively retired. I am now actively engaged, through blogging and memes, in showcasing businesses that are part of the green revolution. I am also writing short stories which I will be marketing to film production companies. I live with my wife, Heather, in the beautiful Niagara Region of southern Ontario, after migrating from Toronto, where I spent most of my adult life.

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  1. This passed into my orbit and I thought of your piece, Jim. While it may be more about self acceptance, it is also about NOT using it as the product:

    𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗯𝗼𝗱𝘆 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗺𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗽𝗶𝗲𝗰𝗲 — 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗶𝘀.
    It is suggested to us a million times a day that our BODIES are PROJECTS. They aren’t. Our lives are. Our spirituality is. Our relationships are. Our work is.
    Stop spending all day obsessing, cursing, perfecting your body like it’s all you’ve got to offer the world. Your body is not your art, it’s your paintbrush. Whether your paintbrush is a tall paintbrush or a thin paintbrush or a stocky paintbrush or a scratched up paintbrush is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that YOU HAVE A PAINTBRUSH which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life — where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.
    Your body is not your offering. It’s just a really amazing instrument which you can use to create your offering each day. Don’t curse your paintbrush. Don’t sit in a corner wishing you had a different paintbrush. You’re wasting time. You’ve got the one you got. Be grateful, because without it you’d have nothing with which to paint your life’s work. Your life’s work is the love you give and receive — and your body is the instrument you use to accept and offer love on your soul’s behalf. It’s a system.
    We are encouraged to obsess over our instrument’s SHAPE — but our body’s shape has no effect on it’s ability to accept and offer love for us. Just none. Maybe we continue to obsess because as long we keep wringing our hands about our paintbrush shape, we don’t have to get to work painting our lives. Stop fretting. The truth is that all paintbrush shapes work just fine — and anybody who tells you different is trying to sell you something. Don’t buy. Just paint.
    No wait — first, stop what you are doing and say THANK YOU to your body — right now. Say THANK YOU to your eyes for taking in the beauty of sunsets and storms and children blowing out birthday candles and say THANK YOU to your hands for writing love letters and opening doors and stirring soup and waving to strangers and say THANK YOU to your legs for walking you from danger to safety and climbing so many mountains for you. Then pick up your instrument and start painting this day beautiful and bold and wild and free and YOU. Paint this day beautiful, bold, wild & free.
    ~Glennon Doyle, Momastary

    • No, it’s all part of the same package. But then you get into the bigger question of why people are so much obsessed with their bodies and so little with their minds. IMHO there are a couple of reasons. One is that they are not intellectual creatures, so they don’t think about their minds the way intellectual people do. The second reason is what I alluded to. A lot of these people are social media addicts. They arrange their life around what other people think of them. It is very hard for someone who doesn’t do that to understand where these people are coming from. But these are the same people who you see being interviewed by guys like Jordan Klepper. People who can’t tell you how many states are in their country. But know the names and ages of all the Kardashian sisters. There’s a thing I heard a while ago it went something like: Intelligent people talk about ideas. The rest of the people talk about people. Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, these sites are all designed to make the people who post on them feel important, and these people need that because their identities are shaped by what other people think of them. It’s pretty sad when you think about it. And if those other people don’t think much oo you, it can really cause some damage to your psyche.

  2. I can’t disagree with you. But the point of this post was really to emphasize that there are a massive number of people out there who are simply so desperate to get noticed (collect likes if you will), that they will do virtually anything in aid of that. What these people do has nothing to do with art and everything to do with sensationalism. They know exactly what they are doing. For a lot of them, it’s just the one thing they know how to do, until they mess up and maybe even kill themselves. I don’t believe they are needy, I just believe they are, for the most part, just playing the game that social media has made the rules for. He or he who gets the most traffic wins. A lot of these people do really stupid stuff and I have to assume that they are not sensitive enough to be considered needy. They are just exhibitionists. Many are indulging in a fetish. But all of them are doing nothing but feeding the machine. On a whole other level that’s what we are doing here on BizCat. But the difference lies in the fact that most of us here are actually professional communicators or artists. And the content we provide this site with has a certain amount of intellect, intelligence abd value attached to it. If you are running a site like Facebook, the thing that determines how profitable that will be is how much you can charge for advertising. And t he more viewers you have the more you can charge. So you create a game that everybody plays. And that gives you loads of content that you don;t have to create yourself, and that makes it even more profitable. It”s all about the Benjamins, and if people are getting lots of eyeballs on a crazy thing they are doing, other people will try crazy stuff too. People, generally, aren’t all that bright and that was what I was trying to point out. Thanks for your comment. It was interesting.

  3. This is a challenging post, Jim.

    Don’t all artists have naturally – that is in the nature of expressing some form of art, be it Warhol’s painting or writers writing – what it appears other people are seeking: an audience?

    Writers write. True, they may never publish anything anywhere and just write for the sheer joy of it, or for the insights they may learn from processing their thoughts in the written form, or to have stories to read to the grandchildren, or to entertain themselves…

    Where your post resonates with me is with the thought that if more people were truly seen by the flesh and blood human beings around them, they would not need to be looked at by faceless strangers online.

    How do we facilitate truly looking?

    Or they publish for an audience, because they want to pass on that they have learned, to connect with others, to make a living…