On Being Famous.
The other day I was chatting with someone about bloggers, and I mentioned that this other blogger wasn’t a “famous blogger” because she is mostly read just by her immediate friends and family. The person I was talking to laughed and said, “She’s not a famous blogger like you?”
I laughed too, but I wanted to protest. I am not a famous blogger.
When I first started blogging, I didn’t even know you could be famous from blogging. I didn’t even really know much about blogging at all, but simply had picked up on the fact there were other people using these strange contraptions to talk about themselves. At the time, I wanted to talk about diabetes and there seemed to be an audience for that. It was until much later that I learned there were other types of blogs: mommyblogs, political blogs, green blogs, tech blogs, and personal blogs. There was a whole subcategory of the health blogs that include doctor blogs and nurse blogs, and patient bloggers were divided into cancer blogs, MS blogs, lupus blogs and many, many others.
When I first started blogging, there was this idea that we were becoming a community, not a reality television show where there were a select few people who were put on display for everyone else to watch and criticize. Even though I was putting myself on display on Lemonade Life, the people who were commenting on my blog were equally putting themselves out on display. It was an even playing field and I never got the impression that one person was “better” than another.
Of course, it didn’t take long before it became pretty clear that there were favorites. There were definitely bloggers who got way more comments than everyone else. It started slowly, but gradually built with guest blogs and self-promotion. Or the “right” person found them and sent a link out. It’s akin to being discovered in a shopping mall. Although I had been involved in the diabetes community since I was a teenager, the creation of Lemonade Life was clearly my “big break.” I’ve had opportunities to speak, to write articles, and to share my story with way more people than I ever thought I could meet. I have complete strangers reading my thoughts on my life, actually liking what I have to say and then coming back to hear more.
One person who I have always considered to be fairly Internet famous is Julia Allison, whom many of you probably don’t know because you don’t live in New York City. But you might have seen her on those Sony commercials with Justin Timberlake. Last week, she had a nervous breakdown and quit blogging (well, for a week). She had shared so much of her life online and had opened up herself so much to the world that while it did make her famous, it also made her a punching bag for anonymous critics, bloggers and anyone who hates oversharing. Except she wasn’t truly sharing herself. Her readers found out later that what we thought was an annoying, self-obsessed life of sunshine and roses, including parties, fashion shows, pretty dresses and a handsome, rich boyfriend, was actually concealing a life falling a part – friendships ruined, a relationship crumbling and self-confidence trashed.
Then I read Ashley’s post about On Being Who You Are As a Blogger, which explored how your perception of yourself colors how you write about yourself online, and how your real personality can sometimes can sometimes get lost when you aren’t honest. The post itself wasn’t really related to this topic, but one of the commenters, Emily Jane, said, “I know I’m not the most popular blogger in the world, and maybe that is because I write about the bad or difficult times as well as the good – but I’d so much rather be true to who I am than pretend I’m someone I’m not for the sake of popularity.”
And all of this got me thinking again about Popularity, which is basically me thinking, “Isn’t high school supposed to be over by now?”
Although I have been blogging for almost 5 years, I truly don’t consider myself “famous” and I don’t really want to be. I have been given some pretty sweet opportunities, but they aren’t what my life is built around. I am a normal girl living a normal life. I struggle with the same things everyone else does, and I make no claims to be perfect. Sometimes my life is even boring! I watch movies and read books and I think the Duggar family is kinda awesome. I’m not tech-savvy and I am just learning how to do great photography and I am still trying to figure out who I am. I protect fiercely the people who are around me, which is why you won’t find any scandalous sex posts or rants about work or complaining about my parents. You won’t find me gallivanting off to Europe because this girl has a 9-6 job. I’m not living dangerously or provocatively, I’m not really that funny (although I try to be), and I am not sunshine and roses. Lemonade is made out of lemons, which means there’s some pretty serious stuff going on around here.
It was hard to admit that because I feel like that being famous is supposed to be the ultimate goal of blogging, but for me, finally, it isn’t. What I realized recently was that I would much rather look down at my comments section and see feedback from five people whom I truly know and appreciate than five hundred comments from people I’ve never met and couldn’t pick out of a police line-up. The fact that I am a small yet well-liked (hopefully!) blogger is that you are my friends. I don’t have fans. I have friends. Even if I don’t know your name. If you write me a comment or email I will read it, and I can respond. I have the ability to get to know everyone who stops by and I really value that.
I used to have Comment Envy. It’s a terrible disease that afflicts thousands of bloggers each year. The only known cure is called Appreciate What You Have. It’s nasty tasting medicine at first, but the more you take it, the better it is. After awhile, it tastes pretty damn awesome. When I look at someone’s blog these days and see that there last post received 50, or 75 or 100 comments and I think, “Wow, they are so lucky!” I just look at my comments and the wonderful feedback I have been given, and the relationships – the true In Real Life relationships that have saved me so many times from complete loneliness - that I have, and I think to myself, “Wow, I am so lucky!”