Besides a propensity for the carved pentagram, the worst offense committed by the best ever death metal band out of Denton’s (I assume) Lennon figure seems to have been the delusion of grandeur yet to come. I bet the small town West Texas old-heads had dreams once too. Maybe they didn’t involve as much satanic imagery, but still, they probably lusted after some sort of greatness, were denied it, and had to just sort of settle back into the conserved standard. That trajectory, though bleak, will probably apply to most of us, despite our best (read: mostly daydreamed) efforts.
Far and away the closest I’ve come to public commodification has been by publishing on this website. Two months and an underwhelming number of unique views later I’m still not particularly close to any sort of real following, cult or otherwise, but I’ve gotten like twenty more followers on Twitter, so hey that’s something.
Like Cyrus and Jeff, I’ve imagined Leer Jets and fortune and fame, and even stage lights because I feel like I’d be really good on discussion panels. But why does that poorly defined set of goals even come to mind? The vast majority of what comes out about being anywhere near the stratosphere of celebrity is riddled with substance abuse, a life lived either very blatantly in view or very blatantly not with little to no middle-ground, and a wake of emotional wreckage left festering behind. Of course, there’s the protective cabal of other celebrities on that level, but I don’t think that relatively small sect of the population would be enough to truly ease my psyche. I think I’m trying to aim a little lower.
That’s why given the option, I’d choose a more marginal brand of stardom. Buoyed not by my fellow shut-ins and 1%-ers but by a much larger, amorphous body: the online community. As fleeting and vapid as any sort of fame chasing is, I think I could handle being a frequent podcast guest, one-off contributor to year-end-wrap-ups, and three or four-time eBook author. Again, I’d also be asked on to panels to deliver the goods on innocuous cultural movements and the latest (sometimes troubling!) youth trends.
Anyways, here’s my five-part logic:
1. The highest echelon of low profile is still maintainable as fuck.
I’m not even trying to be as widespread as like Drew Magary. I’m thinking more like Jon Moy or anyone else at Four-Pins. I’ll even take Lawrence Schlossman – though not Larry Fitzmaurice (not a Fader guy). Basically, I don’t want to have to work that hard to maintain my credibility, and the easiest way to achieve that seems to be finding a perfect simmering point. Just spread around enough to be on the minds of the heads. After all: if not for the heads, then why? And you walk that path until you end up on staff at GQ and then you slide into an Editorship and then you’re set.
2. Comment sections become triumphant accolades.
Comment sections are, on balance, the worst. That’s nothing new; they’re self-sustaining cesspools lodged, in clear point of order, at the bottom. And I’m not just talking about the senseless, ill-delivered negativity (looking at you, JoeBloe), I mean the futile attempts at buddying up to the writer. In reading comments on other people’s pieces, the sycophancy always bothered me more than the hate. But then again, I can’t stand catharsis so whatever.
Point is, once there were comment sections assigned to my own work I (so so so shockingly) began to champion those same faceless cheerleaders whom I’d once detested. They were my people! My army! I was thriving off the positive reinforcement. There’s no compliment like one from someone who doesn’t know you.
3. The self-depreciation opportunities abound.
Nothing disarms an interlocutor like a good old I-Ain’t-Much. Naturally, you don’t want to overdo it, but that’s a delicate line and you have to come to it on your own terms. The toeing of said line is made all the easier if you have a cool job that’s nonetheless kind of vacuous-sounding. It also helps if the explanation of your job is briefer than you would’ve thought when you first started talking about it.
The level of fame described above is perfect for this because you’re really not a big deal at all, so it’s barely even self-deprecation in the aw-shucks sense. You’ve got just enough to be proud of, but not enough that you’ll have to worry about bragging. When you say you “ain’t much,” like, you really aren’t. It’s important to stay grounded while you’re rocketing to cruising altitude.
4. You build some Twitter traction.
Related to, but not the same as, comment section accolades. Twitter’s a perfect medium for hanging out alone. Eventually you’ll get sick of staring at whatever you’re staring at and you’ll need a little interaction. Too bad there’s no one else around… oh wait… hold up…there’s always someone around when you’ve got Twitter! (Side note: if Twitter ever had to advertise, I think I aced the interview to run the operation just now).
Giving voice to your pithy asides can be problematic if someone else is physically there. Timing becomes a factor. With Twitter, you literally control time. Literally. So it took you five minutes to think of the best way to phrase your reaction to Friday Night Tykes? For all your constituents know, you had it cut, cooked and flooding the web within seconds! And, at just this sweet spot of popularity, you don’t have to worry about tailoring your tweets. You can be like that guy who live-tweeted every season of Dawson’s Creek for charity. Once you’ve got several thousands in followers, fuck it, you’ve got free reign to entertain yourself and your assembled masses will fall into line like the good company folks they are.
5. You develop a (harmlessly) inflated sense of self.
I say “harmlessly” because, again, you ain’t much and what can you even really screw up? But a steady flow of positive reinforcement will probably go to your head just enough to sustain your middling ascent. It’s helpful and progressive to receive good feedback once, take your lumps when they come and continue to try and improve your approach to a given profession. But the beauty of reaching the sort of distinction I’m stumping for here is that, by attaining such, you’ve reached a point where you no longer really need to try and improve. Not that you won’t naturally progress and not that your work will suffer from stasis, but that you’ll be able to have confidence at the most basic level. That is to say, you’ll know your lane and how to stray within it.
With that knowledge, you can take pride in delivering the goods as only you can. Though any uniqueness may be, from some outside perspectives, be lost in the milieu of your peers and colleagues, those in the know, the heads, will eat it up as you serve it. And that’ll feel good; a sturdy, forgiving seat cushion of self worth.