If 80s movies taught us anything, it's that at some point you're going to run into a mysterious relic that lets you switch bodies with other people.
Would you use it? Would you choose to switch lives with, say, Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie or Dale DeBone? Most people would.
But let's say the artifact doesn't let you choose, but will instead switch you randomly with one of the other six billion people on the planet. Virtually nobody will take that deal, for fear they'd switch with some poor villager in Nigeria.
So what does that say about us? Well, according to experts, it says almost everything we think about what would make us happy is dead wrong. Let's look at the five things we're most wrong about, with some pictures of adorable animals for good measure.
Go to the little girls' aisle at the department store, if you're not there already. On the shelves you'll see the dominant little girl fantasy isn't Cinderella or even Dora the Explorer. It's Hannah Montana. Playsets come complete with a camera, makeup and a mirror for Hannah to admire herself in.
The girls play with that when they're eight, and by 16 they're on MySpace, pouting at the camera in their underwear and watching the friend requests pour in. In a recent survey of high school kids, 51 percent said their ultimate goal was to become famous.
This is brand new to humanity; for thousands of years, material goods and security dominated. Now, fame is at the top. Obviously part of the reason is the perception that anybody can get famous these days--reality TV and YouTube have proven that you can become a celebrity for doing not a goddamned thing. But there's another, less obvious factor. And it explains why so many famous people are miserable.
So What's the Problem?
Experts say where you find kids who desperately want to be famous, you find a history of neglect at home. Parents were either absent completely or, at best, emotionally distant dicks. It turns out the whole surge in aspirations for fame came right along with the explosion of single parents and "broken" homes. Only half of today's children live with their original two parents.
You can see how this sad mechanism works in the attention-starved mind. The kid is programmed by biology to love a parent, but the parent doesn't return the love. Fame lets them turn the tables on that arrangement. When you're famous, millions love you, but you don't even know their names. It's purely one-sided. They wait for hours in the cold for your autograph, you barely glance at them on the way to your limo. You get to take their love and wipe your ass with it, the same as your parents did to you.
"I love you!" "Your deaths would mean nothing to me."
But it turns out that kind of massive, paper-thin adoration is a poor substitute. Famous people are four times as likely to commit suicide as the rest of us (Hell, you'd think it'd be higher--everybody reading this has seen more than one of their favorite performers self-destruct).
Wait, it Gets Worse...
If you're saying that your parents were awesome and that fame still looks pretty freaking cool, well, we're not done. Studies show nothing is more stressful for a human than when their goals are tied to the approval of others. Particularly when those "others" are an enormous crowd of fickle strangers holding you up to a laughably unrealistic ideal built by publicists, thick makeup and heavily Photoshopped magazine covers.
You could seek comfort from your circle of friends, only now your friends have been replaced Invasion of the Body Snatcher's-style with hangers-on, vultures, unscrupulous characters and plain dumbasses who only want a piece of the spotlight. . . even if it means selling you out later.
For example, have you ever lit up a bong at a party? Were you worried that one of your friends would snap a photo of you, sell it to a tabloid for thousands of dollars and ruin your career?
Well become famous, and then try it.