The Great Popularity Contest of the 21st Century
John and I noticed a long time ago that the lawyers and accountants had won the battle for the planet. We have to play by the rules they set up, and if you can't think like an accountant or a lawyer, you're not going to get very far in this world.
The exception seems to be entertainment (and that includes sports figures). If you become wildly popular, you can work around thinking like a lawyer or an accountant because you have so much money you can pay other people to think like that for you.
At some point someone realized that popularity is almost as valuable as cash in the bank. Almost, because you still have to convert that adoration of your fans into actual cash in the bank, but it's pretty obvious that if you have millions of fans each giving you a dollar a year, you've got millions of dollars a year.
So the Great Popularity Contest of the 21st Century was born. In its prenatal form you had such shows as America's Funniest Videos where getting kicked in the groin could win you $10,000 and we slowly evolved into America's Got (limited) Talent.
The Internet has removed the TV producer from the equation and gave everyone a shot at fame. There are basically three ways to get fame online -- 1) pure chance, 2) you're already famous, or 3) you really work at it. Pure chance gives us stuff like the Numa Numa guy or Star Wars kids. Offline we call these people the 'Z List' (as opposed to the 'A List'), a term I learned to describe Cato Kaylin (OJ Simpson's pool boy).
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails is one of those guys who got online and was overwhelmed by his fans. One could argue that Ashton Kutcher worked it because of a billboard campaign, but again, fame begets fame. Lady Gaga? Let's just say she's in a world of her own already and defies any rules my feeble brain tries to outline.
Everyone else falls into the 'really work at it' category. There's this theory that if you post a regular blog, engage people on Twitter and Facebook, and just 'put yourself out there' that you, too, will generate millions of adoring fans who might all give you a buck each.
Except most people aren't Lady Gaga. Hell, most people aren't even Cato Kaylin.
Leave aside the fact that most people can't write and that the pictures they take with their phones are generally hard to decipher. The problem with ordinary people trying to create fame online is that, even though you have access to an audience, you're still ordinary.
The things that go on in ordinary lives can be interesting if you're an interesting person, but that's the challenge of conformity of the masses -- you may be interesting, but if you want to keep your job, you better not be too interesting.
And why do I write my occasional blog if I don't believe in creating online fame? Honestly, I probably write for the same reason most people do -- I like to hear myself talk. I know my audience, and if that audience is usually just me, there's no pressure.
Of course that brings up another topic which I will leave for another day -- social media as crowdsourced therapy…