I ask this questions to quite a number of students during informal talks, Do you want to be popular or good or both? I often see a big pause or confusion hovering over their mind. Yes, definitely this confusion exists among many of us. There is an article at rediff(dot)com about ‘The Best (Good) Bollywood films of 2011’, the list goes like this – Tanu Weds Manu, The Dirty Picture, I Am, Shor in the City etc. The list didn’t have Ready, Bodyguard and others (listed under Bollywood’s Biggest Hits (popular) of 2011). This implies that popularity does not necessarily mean the best. Being popular will means appealing to most (everyone) and choice of most.
Being good is going to be scary to others, and makes others uncomfortable, which works against the popularity. As many statement in media says, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India is honest (Good) person, Is he like Obama (Popular)? I am sure we would have seen in class, someone is popular but not good and vice-versa. Good people speaks their mind and didn’t always try to please everyone.
I am sure many of us out there are tempted to strive for popularity. Popular people make, do and say things others like, in the hopes of pleasing them (often seen among bureaucratic’s). There is absolutely right with this motivation and results might be appealing. But pleasing others might also give a notion of ‘neither good or bad’ person. This is because the popularity comes with a price tag and at times it becomes precidtable and meaningless. For example, When Poonam Pandey offered to strip in stadium if India won the 2011 World Cup Cricket. She is quoted in an IANS interview stating that the stripping comment worked for her and helped her in getting famous.This is quite predicted and meaningless for good people. A similar one was Rakhi ka Swayamvar.
I met a person by Nigel (a British) had his unique sense of what he think is good and insist on striving for it, no matter what anyone says. They don’t expect anyone to care, these people are interesting. May its stupidity of popular people not able to see the brilliance of good people. I felt this about many good students (academics may not be appealing).
In history and in present, it’s interesting to see how people (Gandhi, Vivekanada Swami, Abdul Kalam, Atal Bihari Vajpee, Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit) balanced popular vs. good challenge. They have won a tightrope. The challenges they have perhaps faced is – Once popularity is earned, people tend to want more of the same from them. It’s like a handcuffs to manage good and popular. The idea to balance good and popular is to learn to succeed, but also expect to fail occasionally if you are following your own rules of being good.