The De-humanisation of the “Role Model”

As young people nowadays, we are constantly being force fed with the opinions of others. One of the most forced of them all has to be the concept of having a role model, or a person within a society that one aspires to be like or to emulate in order to achieve recognition and success in their lives. Now it would be delusional for me to discredit the importance of such figures in day to day and if the individual behind the role decides to embrace the title, it can do a lot of good for  society, but, for me,  the importance of the individual behind the role has been diminished to an extent that we can only focus on looking up and aspiring to be in the person’s position, and not the actual person.

We either anoint these people into the position of role model, or they work themselves into a position of fame which then entails the position of a role model as well. But what we fail to realize is that we scrutinize and perpetuate so many different social issues on their heads to such an extent that we neglect the human behind the role.

Two recent stories related to footballers have sparked my thoughts about this issue. Firstly, you have Ched Evans, released after serving a reduced prison term after a rape conviction. Seemingly on the brink of a return to football with Oldham Athletic, the transfer was cancelled due to threats from sponsors and others of the general public. In addition, anti-rape organisations and others fighting for the rights of women grasped onto his case and highlighted it in order to campaign for a just cause, saying that he should not return to a high paid job based on the fact that this was “not the example” that we want to give to the . Not that I am in any way condoning the crime that he was convicted for, I feel that this is an example which demonstrates us using the “role model” and setting an example trend to enhance social agendas and it should not be this way. One may claim that using a high profile case and taking strong action may deter possible future perpetrators and reduce rape in this case, but doesn’t the fact that it has to get to this stage for people to take notice shows that there are fundamental problems with our judicial system and crime prevention. Problems which one high profile case will not eradicate. So isolating one case from an ongoing issue, based on the fact that one has set a bad example or was meant to be perceived as a role model is futile. It serves to dehumanise the individual and take away from the fundamental social issue. They may have a high profile, but the world of a footballer is not completely withdrawn from the life of an average person.

This is further highlighted by recent stories regarding young Raheem Sterling and videos of him smoking on a shisha pipe and happily inhaling nitrous oxide surfacing on the Sun (people feasting on others £’s starvation).Again there were the general outcries of “he should know his responsibilities as a footballer” and he’s “setting a bad example for the kids”. This serves to isolate one guy, a 20 year old who has had to compromise his teenage enjoyment in pursuit of a successful football career. It bothers me that the media and members of the public focus on one individual in this way, condemning an action which is done and enjoyed by so many, once again resulting in this dehumanising effect.

We achieve less than we actually think when we take this approach. No pertinent issues are actually resolved and it does not “perfect” the individual behind the role model, that is part of life – we are imperfect beings.  Do we attack public figures because we want them to set a good example for future generations, or are we simply doing this out of resentment of their lifestyle and highly paid position? I am drawn towards the latter.

It is not the individual that people look up to nowadays but their position.We poke holes in their livelihood because we envy or aspire to be in their position and are mad that they are abusing it, not acknowledging the fact it is with our glaring eyes that crave to watch them day after day. But they still do not live on another planet.

For the record, I am somebody who thrives on recognition and adulation and one day, I would love to be viewed as a role model for younger generations in my future endeavors, but above all, i just want to be valued as a human first. I am sure that those in the public eye crave the same treatment too.

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