Idol worship is an odd thing.

While a majority polled indicated enough was enough when it came to the news coverage of Michael Jackson's death, 24-hour news channels thought otherwise.

But gauging by what was shown in the coverage, the death of the King of Pop generated worldwide mourning.

But that makes me wonder. Have you ever mourned the death of a public figure as deeply as some have with Jackson?

I have not.

I remember when John Lennon died. I remember when George Harrison died.

I was sad, but not despondent. I know people gathered for a candlelight vigil after Lennon died and tears flowed.

The same happened after grunge rocker Kurt Cobain killed himself.

Maybe there was some sort of catharsis in these group gatherings, but they seemed more personal than the very public mourning for Jackson.

I know people react differently, people have their own thoughts and emotions, and grieving is very personal.

But when I heard a person interviewed who said he spent hundreds of dollars to make his way to Los Angeles after "winning" the right to attend the memorial service and then spent about $1,500 on new clothes, it makes me wonder.

I wonder how people become so wrapped up in their heroes that it affects how they live their lives, spend their money or make decisions.

We hear about stalking cases all the time, people who just have to be near the celebrities they worship, and even fantasize about having some sort of life with them.

Stars even have been killed by the very ones who call themselves fans.

It is an odd thought for me that people become so obsessed with celebrities they become delusional. Their real world disappears into a make-believe life in which the rich and famous are at the core of their world.

But the entertainment business has spun the paparazzi. They have been around as long we have had celebrities, they have just become more intrusive as the public's thirst for dirt has grown.

That brings us back to Jackson. His life was lived in the spotlight, and as he grew up and his behavior seemed more bizarre to people, the fascination swelled.

Ask people about him, and they know as much about the molestation allegations, Neverland and his changing appearance as they do his hit songs.

We do like knocking down our idols as much, if not more, than we like building them up. Then we move on to the next one.

Television was taken over, or maybe we were taken over by television Tuesday during Jackson's memorial service.

At work, the memorial was on. When I walked in the door at home, it was on, and I watched.

The coverage included, at times, nothing more entertaining than watching the family drive from the cemetery to the memorial service, and was filled with hyperbole, some calling Jackson the greatest entertainer of all time.

The service was ornate and expensive and probably just as Jackson would have liked, given his expensive tastes.

But in the end, it was a man mourned by his mom and dad, brothers and sisters and three children.

Finally, the idol worship had given way to real emotions by people who called him Dad.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.