On being a micro-celebrity

Taking selfies
Meeting readers at Lovesick Expo Brooklyn. Photo by Mikkel Paige Photography.
How do you feel about the celebrity you have gained as a result of your book and websites?

-Jada


Ah, micro-celebrity. First, I must say something: if you know who I am, it's not because of my book. It's because of the internet. I know from my reader surveys that like 12 of you found me via my book. The rest of you find me on the internet.

But yeah, micro-celebrity. Since I started blogging in 2000 and hang out in super geeky circles, I've had a long time to get used to the "Uh, you don't know me, but I read your blog…" phenomenon, so that kind of niche notoriety feels pretty ok. Of course it's always nice to have people who are familiar with your work, but it's just not that big of a deal and there's no need to get all "OH HELLOOOOO MY LITTLE DARLINGS! TAKE MAH PICTURE! I AM A ROCK STAR! LA LA LA." I'm not. I'm a blogger. A few thousand people are familiar with my corner of the web. I am not a celebrity, nor am I even that well-known of a writer, relatively speaking.

At the Lovesick Expos, I've been truly honored to meet with readers who've sometimes traveled across state lines to say hello. It's an honor! It's exciting! I love it! My goal when meeting a reader is always to make them feel awesome about getting up the gumption to say hello — I know it takes nerves, and feels awkward. My goal is to hug the awkward out of you when we meet.

So while I'm comfortable with niche notoriety (because I recognize it for what it is: a niche. A very small one.) I DO get uncomfortable when it turns into any sort of idolatry. I totally get having online writers who you admire and adore (I have a ton of them!), but I think it can get weird when you start projecting your admiration on to people and thinking somehow they're better than you.

For the most part, people you admire are just as confused and fucked up as you are. They may have figured out certain areas of their lives (hence the cause of your admiration), but chances are good that other aspects of their lives are in shambles, and you could probably teach them a thing or two.

I guess I'm saying we all need more mentors, and less idols. I don't need the web to create more self-absorbed celebrities. I want it to create a gallery of accessible, intelligent mentors.

  1. "For the most part, people you admire are just as confused and fucked up as you are. They may have figured out certain areas of their lives (hence the cause of your admiration), but chances are good that other aspects of their lives are in shambles, and you could probably teach them a thing or two."

    So, so true.

    Also reminded me that I need to read Duff McKagans Seattle Weekly blog, so thanks for that too. :D

    • I agree. I love that quote. I was telling a student this past weekend why I think memoirs have been on the rise, and I think it's for that exact reason– we all have some sort of shambling going on, and we look to others now who have realistic lives (not fictitiously heightened ones) and have written about how they got through so that we can learn from them. It's interesting now how it's not just writing skills that get you a "celebrity status," but your own personal life as well. It really blurs the lines between a writer's personal and professional identities.

      Really liked reading this post.

  2. FOREVER!! …thank you for the link. I have not laughed that hard in a while. I have sent this to a ton of people already!

  3. That's why I personally don't bother with the celeb/whatever worship. Celebs are people just like all of us who happen to be better-known and are usually rich. That's all. They still burp, farp, wipe their asses, have period leaks (the ones with periods, anyway), get zits, etc..

    If someone wants a print magazine they can print off a bunch of articles and staple them together. :)

  4. I think, in fact, that writers we (or is it just I?) love to read, are always a little f*cked up. Not like, "I'M A DISASTER AND A TERMINAL CHILD AND ISN'T IT GREAT I HAVE AN ARTISTIC PERSONALITY" f*cked up (kill me now), but more 'crazy like me' and able to write articulately about it. I mean who wants to read someone who has it all figured out all the time? That just makes you cry. So I like to think being a little f*cked up is an asset ;) Would we like to read you if you were always saying, "Wedding plannign was so EASY for me, what's the big deal for you guys??" Uhhhhh…. no.

    So. Yes.

    Micro-celebrity is fun in person I think (getting stopped on the street by some bad ass girl to talk about your work is always great). Micro-celebrity via email/ web is less fun. Because people don't get out of their heads and realize how, well, micro, it is. And how, well, normal said micro-celebrity really is.

  5. Bump 12 up to 14, my fiance and I found the book first and had new clue about OBB and OBT till after we finished reading.

  6. Great post! I think Andy Warhol was almost right… we're not famous for 15 minutes. We're famous to 15 people.

  7. I am one of those 12, i remember that survey and I remember picking up the book, THEN finding (and falling in love with) the blog.

    Loved the link Ariel, my mom laughed too… she said, "GET OUTTA MY HEAD!!" so at least in my case I come by it honestly. :)

  8. Augh, I go through this a LOT. I'm a singer & sideshow performer in Seattle, and often get recognized (it's the beard) when I go out.

    While I always appreciate the fangirling, pictures, and compliments, when it becomes fawning to the point of self-deprecation ("I wish I could be like you, but I suck"), or entitlement ("I wrote you a message last week – how come you didn't answer? How come you won't accept my friend request?"), I get uneasy.

    I'm not a human teachable moment nor do i sit on a pedestal. Like Tina says, "I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else." And part of performing as much as I do means I'm often BUSY. When i can't get to people right away all the time, it's not "fame going to my head." (an accusation I've received) It's me trying to focus, be productive, and become the best performer I can be.

    So yeah, I hear you. I'm glad "micro-celebrity" is a term. I've just been calling myself a "Seattle D-lister," for the past 6 months :P

    1 agrees

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