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Old Television. When Role Models Lead us astray
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When Role Models Lead Us Astray

When Role Models We Look Up To Lose Our Trust

Rolling headlines featuring the awful things your role models did. A secret life behind the famed inspiration, and suddenly that shining star you looked up to has burnt out.

It is almost embarrassing how badly this can sting at times. They didn’t even know us, yet they managed to betray the trust we had.

What do we do afterwards, and why does this hurt so bad?

We all grow up and select role models out of the people on our screens. Their features and behaviors, burned into our brains as influences. Our chosen heroes inspire us, and at times can guide us through tumultuous times in life. Through this virtual barrier, we form unique relationships with these famed figures.

Over time, our idols can lose our trust. This loss can leave us with a bizarre pain inside.

An inspirational fuel, siphoned away from us due to questionable or illegal actions of our role models.

Is It Ridiculous to Feel so Hurt and Betrayed When a Role Model Does Something Bad?

Robot ripping a heart
Digital, one sided relationships through entertainment.

The short answer is yes. When allegations or statements come out, we cannot invalidate the feelings it draws out of us. Even without knowing them personally, we can grieve the loss as they step back from public eye.

To look at this further, and understand the effect it has on us, we have to look at what being famous really means at the end of the day.

What Does Famous Mean?

‘Famous’ as a term is incredibly wide-reaching. It casts a wide umbrella with many different types of people underneath. When we choose our earliest role models, most of the time they are ‘famous’ to a certain degree.

Whether it is an A-list actor, an internet sensation, or an up and coming sports star, our view of ‘famous’ is often glorified. We place their jobs on a pedestal, and forget that they are simple and flawed people like everyone else.

Fame is cooked up across many industries, and their is no one recipe to get there. More often then not, these are regular people who stumble underneath a limelight.

Without caution or directed at the wrong person, and the power of limelight can cast a long shadow. Aspects of their personality and life hidden behind the shining star of their fame and notoriety.

Losing Role Models and the Toll it Takes

Stressful to watch play out
Feeling betrayed is normal. [Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels]
The first time I remember being betrayed by a role model, is when I was very young. I grew up an intense Pro-Wrestling fan. Unfortunately, there could be a full article on ‘heroes gone bad’ from Wrestling circles.

I drew so much inspiration from these figures, that each time one did something bad, a piece of my inspiration would be eroded away. Waves of illegal or immoral actions, crashing against my understanding of their ethics.

After this happens enough, it feels like burning out.

For some role models, it can cut deep enough to turn you away from an entire medium.

Luckily, time is able to heal wounds like these. We navigate to different role models, different forms of entertainment, and different inspiration fuels.

Grief works in unpredictable ways, even on smaller scales like this. As the internet scales – and therefore, internet fame scales – this is going to be more common. It’s fun to be a fan and dive headfirst into something as a fan, but we have to be careful not to mystify our influences while doing that.

Thanks for reading. Take care of yourselves.

-Anthony xx

October 2020

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