Pop singer Justin Bieber’s headlines are not so much about his music as his behavior lately: drugs and a stun gun on his tour bus, urinating in a mop bucket (on video and laughing about it) in the back of a New York restaurant and spraying a photo of former President Bill Clinton with a cleaning liquid while shouting curses. Most recently, Bieber was banned from a Los Vegas indoor skydiving facility after failing to pay a $1,600 bill for him and his friends, whom staff described as “a disrespectful bunch.”
His response? “I’m young and I make mistakes.”
OK, Justin. Everyone is young and makes mistakes to an extent. That’s part of growing up.
But with a net worth of $110 million as of 2012 and landing at #9 on Forbes annual Top 100 list of “The World’s Most Powerful Celebrities” and ranking #1 in the “Social” category (thanks to his 40 million Twitter followers and 54 million Facebook fans), Bieber needs to wake up to the power, privilege and responsibility of his platform.
His influence isn’t just on social media: it’s on the behavior of those who look up to him. Whatever Justin Bieber does, right or wrong, is emulated and imitated by his peers.
Known as a good kid who made it by believing in himself has resulted in positive message songs that have been amazing hits. But recently, his M.O. doesn’t match his message. “It confuses the brand,” says Michael Stone, head of brand licensing agency Beanstalk. “Once you start confusing people, you don’t have a brand anymore.”
Is there a redeeming lesson for you and me? I believe so.
You and I may not play, sing or speak to crowds of thousands, but there are others, particularly those who are younger than you and me, who hang on our words, watch what we do, observe how we handle success as well as failures and setbacks. Believe it or not, you have a God-given platform, yes, YOU: in your home, at your place of work, community organization, church, and at the ball field.
Someone is deciding how to live, how to relate to others, how to respond to irritations, how to resolve conflicts, whether or not being truthful and consistent or kind is important and a whole host of other issues…based on how you do these things. Make sure your M.O. matches your message.
With your platform comes power. With your platform comes privilege. With your platform comes responsibility. May you and I use it for the good of others.