Angela Chee: How does a 24-year-old named Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta become a global phenom with more than ten million Facebook friends and six million Twitter followers? That question intrigued and inspired a college professor (who's also a fan) to teach a course called "Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame." The class explores what makes a person famous and what being famous means in today's culture. Or, as the course description puts it: "The central objective is to unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of fame."
These days, it seems people have become obsessed with fame. Some celebrities earned their fame through talent and hard work; others by chance and overexposure (and, in the case of Lady Gaga, maybe a combination of all these factors). I am also fascinated by Lady Gaga, and the fact that her rise to fame is now a college course makes me wonder about how my children will view and achieve success in the future.
As a mom, I often think about how technology, social media and reality TV will shape the upcoming generations. When asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" do kids today say, "I want to be a fireman/astronaut/fashion designer"? Or do they say, "Lady Gaga/The Situation/the most-watched person on YouTube"?
What are our priorities?
Don't get me wrong: Sometimes I love watching mindless television, and I surf the Internet and Facebook more than I should. But is this new reality good for our kids -- and if not, what do we do about it? How do we teach our kids to navigate this new high-tech world of instant gratification and social-media manipulation?
Should we try to steer them in the right direction without sounding too archaic, or should we be teaching it at school instead?
Right now, it's a college course on the sociology of fame. Maybe in a few years it will be high school or even elementary school classes. I can see it now. Facebook 101: How to Win Friends and Manage Your Online Image. Speed Texting, Level 4.
Maybe it's not such a bad idea ....