People doing important work in science, technology, business, and many other fields live in obscurity while the most trivial but visible work leads to fame. Actors become more famous than the people they portray while television “personalities” become more famous than the people they interview. The element most likely to lead to fame is not accomplishment, talent, or merit, but simply visibility through the media.
The public avidly follows the lives of celebrities, no matter how banal or senseless those lives might be. The distinction between fame and infamy has been lost as visibility, rather than moral worth, becomes the criteria for determining who is “celebrated.” The most visible people, such as athletes and entertainers, tend to have the least long-term impact, while people toiling in obscurity in laboratories or on college campuses are the driving forces behind profound changes in society.
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