Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

American Idol: A Reflection of Our Dishonesty

Our modern culture is producing dishonest people who are especially dishonest about themselves. When young people can go in front of an audience of 37 million people without any shame of how pathetic they appear, something is radically wrong. Apparently many teenagers have been cheated out of their ability to see themselves realistically.

It is we who are mean, not Simon Cowell, one of the hosts of the “American Idol” show. Mr. Cowell, at times may go “over the top” saying degrading things which are not helpful in critiquing the contestant. He probably does this to be obnoxiously “cute”. Although for the most part, he is doing the difficult job of “separating the wheat from the chaff.”

Parents seem to have lost the understanding of how to prevent their children from being ridiculed by others. We are no longer teaching our children to be self-critical. The unwillingness of loved ones to confront children with negative reactions to their often outrageous behavior is creating delusional freaks.

In our politically-correct child rearing world of only using positive reinforcement, our youngsters have become victims. We have lowered our standards at home, school and at work while handcuffing parents, teachers and employers from demanding better results. Our children have interpreted these phony positive comments from authority figures to validate their delusion.

Modern children believe they only have to think it, to make it real. This is obviously not true but no one has been kind enough to teach them the fallacy of their thinking.

Our dishonesty is mean, not Simon’s curt dismissal of nauseating displays of behavior that are far off the mark. We laugh or cringe in disbelief that this is not a “put on”. These youngsters are not acting, they believe in their fantasy of being a super star when in reality they are buffoons. They have not learned to see themselves as others see them.

It is not healthy for people like Paula Abdul to feel sorry for these fools since it increases their ability to lie to themselves. In fact it is beneficial for wannabee celebrities in the long run to appraise them honestly in order to encourage them to improve or abandon their naïve dream. This will allow for the pursuit of a more realistic career.

Good teachers, coaches and parents are often strict appearing to be mean when in reality they are telling the truth. They are teaching us the skills to create the habits that lead to success. Anyone who loves another and wants the best for him cannot be fearful of giving honest feedback.

American Idol’s popularity highlights a societal problem. We are producing too many people with high false esteem who are destined to live a life of disappointment, depression and anger.

The Paula Abduls of the world are not doing our children any service. Regardless of our intentions children cannot forever be shielded from reality. By coddling we are only delaying the inevitability of an incident bursting their bubble..

In order to correct these destructive trends where people tell lies so they do not hurt others feelings we need to do the following.

  • Give honest, concrete and clear feedback on how to improve.
  • Instill a sense of pride in children by demanding they do their best.
  • Upgrade your expectations in order to foster optimal growth.
  • Stop defending your child’s inadequate performance at home, in school or on the job.
  • Thank your spouse, teachers and employers for giving honest and critical evaluations.

Forty years ago “American Idol” never would have become a phenomenon. Children were taught not to embarrass themselves or their families. The fear of honest peer feedback kept most of us straight into the adult world. We learned to be realistic about what it takes to be successful.

In this modern culture things have been reversed. Most people act sympathetic to the loser freaks in front of them while laughing at them behind their backs. For the most part adults and peers are doing little to assist unrealistic children to turn away from their delusional dreams before the inevitable crash with reality.

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