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What Makes an "Idol"?

Updated on June 24, 2016

Justin Bieber

A stunning black-and-white photo of Justin Bieber.
A stunning black-and-white photo of Justin Bieber. | Source

For me, an idol is someone that has done a significant amount of humanitarian work, is old enough to share unbiased wisdom, and has the ability to connect with the common folk.

If you asked me who I considered to be an idol, I would say Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, or even Will Smith. (Will Smith is pretty motivational.)

Yet, how can a single musical.ly post turn a small-town boy into someone's idol?

Back when I used to be active on Twitter, I would constantly see young girls refer to social media stars as their "idol."

Now, what is a social media star? You may ask. If the names Cameron Dallas, Bethany Mota, and Tyler Oakley sound familiar to you, then you know exactly what a social media star is.

Other girls would say that famous celebrities like Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift are their idols.

I was talking to my grandmother a few days back and she compared childhood back then and today. She basically said that when we are young, we tend to believe that celebrities are these untouchable higher beings that have no flaws and no mistakes. When you think about it, it's like saying that flawed humans who aren't famous believe that the same flawed humans who have a little extra money and fame are no longer in the same category as them; these celebrities are no longer human. But that's not the case...and the point of this article is not not pick at celebrities flaws.

But I find it so crazy that when we are young, we put all of our energy into believing that we will never be able to meet the person that has the same blood and organs as us. Yes, Justin Bieber is a human too.

My grandma also added that we tend to skew our perceptions of these celebrities and put them on high pedestals. Fame doesn't come easy, and I'm not taking anyone's success away from them. Everyone who has made it in the world deserves it. But why do we idolize teen boys who have nice voices? Why do we see them differently than choir boys? Why can't the choir boys be famous too? If Justin Bieber remained in Canada, wasn't famous, and YouTube didn't exist, you wouldn't pay any attention to him.

I do have to step back and realize that in our modern world, as teens, social media stars are all we really have to look up to. Teens watch more YouTube than television, so they're being exposed to kids who are just like them. In result, teens label them as "relatable", and from there, a social media star's success begins. We are driven by Instagram likes and Twitter follower counts, and it is easy to be blinded by numbers. So, you can't really blame teens for choosing who they decide to idolize. Someone has a 100,000 subscribers and teens gravitate them. Viewers are being pulled in by the large numbers. We want to see what makes them earn the fame.

It is safe to say that these social media stars are the Rolling Stones and Beatles of our time, and it doesn't look like anything will change. Theses YouTubers and Viners are all we really have. The world is ever-changing. It is clear that landing auditions for television shows have been put on the back-burner when it is much simpler to upload a video.

So what makes an idol?

The numbers? Possibly.

The name? Maybe.

Or is the way that a girl feels when her favorite YouTuber has posted a new tweet?

Writing this article has even changed my perception about the word "idol". I used to believe that these girls (and guys) on Twitter used the word idol because they didn't understand the meaning of the word. It has connections to gods and higher beings. So how can a YouTuber be seen as a god? But maybe I need to open my heart, and return to the days when I used to go crazy over Justin Bieber and actually pray to the higher beings that I would go to his concert.

Let me know what you think makes an idol in the comments!

Did you use the term "idol" as a child?

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