Last weekend I got to live two hours of liberating music and euphoria, as a packed football stadium in all their differences, came together to celebrate what they had in common — their love of a band. The band was Coldplay and I was more excited than a kid at a sleepover party! I knew that memories from this night would be etched in my soul forever just like six years ago when I saw them live in concert for the first time. But this post is not about Coldplay and how inimitably awe-inspiring they are (disappointed?! — you can check out event pictures on my Instagram). Instead, this post is about Celebrity Public Responsibility.
Most of us have heard about Corporate Social Responsibility; a policy being rapidly embraced by a vast number of corporations to extend their actions beyond personal interests and towards the social good. Over the years we have seen a subgroup of celebrities support a variety of causes and charities ranging from providing education and healthcare to those in need, protecting the environment and animals, and safeguarding human rights. Even studies conducted on data from non-profit organizations have shown that celebrity endorsed charities receive 1.4% more in donations than their non-celebrity endorsed counterparts. As such, these celebrities are being socially responsible by giving back to the community through philanthropy.
Being publicly responsible though extends beyond just donations; by setting the right examples through your words, acts and endorsements. Take for example musicians — who have had a remarkable role in defining not only musical trends but also our society’s culture — be it the hippie lifestyle of the 60s; the discos of the 70s; sex, drugs and rock n’ roll in the 80s; hip hop in the 90s; or the raves of the 2000s. Musicians exercised their ability to persuade masses, influenced our thinking and behavior, and gathered a cult following, almost like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
I can vouch from personal experience how impactful the words of performers on stage have been to me, especially coming from my favorite artists. For most youth, words and acts of celebrities they look up to are impressed upon their personalities more than those from their friends or family members. This is the harsh truth. Inherently, celebrities — musicians, actors, athletes, or fashionistas — whether they like it or not, bear the burden of sending out a positive message to their followers; on stage, Social Media, and via endorsement of thoughts or products.
When we have a vaccine-skeptical celebrity crowd, or one that endorses fairness products and carbonated drinks, the result is an influenced group of tens of thousands of people that doesn’t know any better. On the contrary, a band may choose to take a few minutes on stage to spread a message of love, acceptance and global unity amongst thousands of people who have their undivided attention, and start a chain reaction.
The proliferation of social media and the ease by which celebrities can voice their opinions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; thereby reaching out to millions of people across the world, makes their public responsibility monumental. This brings me to my second argument — this responsibility lies not only with them but with each and everyone of us. Most of us are contributors/consumers of one or more forms of social media or online forums, or even have our own website. We are constantly engaging with our friends and followers across the world through our posts; hoping to accumulate likes and comments, getting shared or re-tweeted and amassing more followers — hence becoming celebrities in our own right.
So this weekend I’ll leave you with this thought — the next time you take stage, what kind of message are you going to send out to the world?