I used to be popular.
Well, now, I don’t know if that statement is actually true.
Perhaps another way of writing it is to say that I used to be known by more than a few people.
But, no – wait a second – that isn’t true either because in that sense I am known by far more people now than before. So, what am I saying?
What is popularity?
I started wondering about this after reading through some other blogs by other people who post how many followers they have – and they have a lot. Thus, they must be popular. But then again, being a blogger I have been approached with ads that for only a few hundred dollars I could have thousands of followers as well. Then there is all that shit about fake news and nothing seems real any more. I am sure that those blogs that I were reading who had those thousands of followers are all legit. I think.
But, regardless of whether those followers are real or not I was more interested in my reaction to those numbers. I wanted the same numbers on my page. I don’t post how many followers I have and quite frankly I would have to spend a lot of energy to figure out where to find that number and I don’t know if I want to know.
Lies. All lies.
I do know. I just wrote that to make myself feel better. I do know how many followers I have and it isn’t thousands. It isn’t even a thousand. Yet.
I remember back in the early days of Facebook for a few years I was racking up the ‘friends’. I was posting funny and witty content everyday and I enjoyed reading everyone’s responses to it all. Yes, then I was popular. Very popular. But then the trolls started coming out – and this was before trolls were even a thing. These were the pre-trolls – the troll’s parents per se.
I didn’t like it. I didn’t enjoy reading their comments about my comments. All of a sudden in the moment it was as if there were some underlining social structure that I was not aware of – some way of acting, some way of being, some way of behaving that I had missed the briefing on and when my eyes left my screen and started wondering about these imposed behavioural expectations I realised that all that I had before – back in those days of Facebook – in terms of popularity, was merely “Dust in the Wind” as the rock group Kansas sang about way back in 1977.
I was berated. My comments and opinions and general observations about life were not correct and therefore not acceptable. Suddenly it seemed I cared about their comments and so I stopped. Actually, back in the day when this first happened not only did I stop but I deleted my social media accounts and poured myself into my research, turning my Master’s thesis into research around what I came to call, “Experiential Authority”. I then wrote a book and self-published it under the same title.
I don’t think I like popularity.
I like affirmation but popularity comes at too high of a cost. It opens oneself up to the vastness of public scrutiny – whether it is fake or not – real or contrived – worthy or worthless. I like affirmation but only from those who have a vested interest in me. Only from those who have taken the effort to get to know me. The rest of it is so fragile, so temporal, so uncertain of itself that I need to make sure I don’t give in to the temptation to be liked that I reach out and grab this thing called popularity for like the wise author of Proverbs once wrote the seductress will taste sweet on the lips but bitter in the stomach.