Justin Bieber is a very talented musician. He’s a gifted singer, instrumentalist, dancer and entertainer. With youth, talent and success, he should be admired and respected by all. Instead, he’s doing a spectacular job of squandering the incredible opportunity at his disposal through his narcissistic displays of immaturity.
Artists create not only to indulge their own desire for self-expression, but also to positively impact the world around them. Some perform music to delight audiences and help people celebrate the best of life. Others write provocative novels or enchanting poetry that point out the flaws of humankind and teach us to reconcile our own frailties. Comedians help us laugh while dramatic playwrights make us cry. Ultimately, art in any form should leave the world better off than without it.
When an artist, business leader, politician, author, or inventor reaches a certain level of recognition, that person has a responsibility beyond their art. High achievers serve as role models and are often emulated. In other words, their influence transcends their craft. How they behave in and out of the spotlight can greatly impact thousands around the world.
Aspiring jazz musicians in the 1950s abused heroin because Charlie Parker, the most admired jazz cat of the day, was an addict. Alcohol and cigarette brands famously used celebrities to push their wares as adoring fans followed suit despite the obvious heath risks. In our always-connected world, we’re only a tweet, Facebook post, Instagram photo or TMZ feature away from the most noted — and notorious — luminaries.
However, with great success comes great responsibility. If a person reaches icon-like status, he or she no longer has the luxury of acting like a spoiled brat. In the same way Bieber would never sing out of key or disrespect his fellow musicians by blowing his big finish, he should exhibit the same concern for the impact he’s leaving on millions of fans worldwide, especially kids. Indulging in every temptation, mocking society’s norms, and behaving like an infant shows a total disregard for those who might follow his influence. Instead of using his music as a platform to elevate humanity, he’s used his talent to gain a megaphone to negatively influence others.
Cult leaders and dictators have often used their charisma and talents to captivate and then manipulate others into following negative and divergent paths. Honestly, I don’t think Bieber is nearly that calculating or malicious. I believe he’s so self-consumed and impulsive that he just doesn’t seriously consider the impact he’s leaving outside his music.
My advice to Bieber — and to anyone else who will listen — is to carefully examine the impact you’re leaving on others outside your chosen field. You don’t need to be a celebrity to make a positive difference in the world. Architect that influence purposefully and take personal responsibility for how you’re affecting the world around you. Even the most notorious offenders can reform quickly and start leaving a positive fingerprint. Let’s all make a change for the better, even Justin Bieber. I’d be thrilled to once again catch the fever.