|No, the person I know is not Lady Gaga, sorry.|
I know someone who's about to become famous.
She's going to be a famous author, in my field (fantasy). She's also already pretty famous in another field that's important to me, but I already knew that before I met her, so it's not as thrillingsome.
I've been thinking about fame lately, and how, in some ways, it is more enjoyable to bask in the aquaintance of someone famous than to be famous. But even better is to know someone before they are famous, so that that you can prove to the world that you knew how cool that person was long before everyone else.
I know her now before she's famous, and I can see fame gathering like rainclouds on the horizon. I mean, she's going to become famous, literally, tomorrow. And it's pretty awesome. It's great for her and all that, but it's even better for me. Because, well, I KNOW her. Or, more to the point, she knows me. She's not my bff or anything, but we've had lunch together.
I read an article, which, sadly, I'm too lazy to cite, that said the internet had given rise to an unprecendented number of unilateral friendships. Ordinarily, when you become friends with someone, you both share more and more about yourselves until you both know each other pretty well. But with the rise of mass media came the possibility of unilateral intimate sharing. We peons can see famous people on our tv, read their personal blogs and their tweets about what they had for breakfast, and feel like we know them better than we know our spouses. But they know (or care) squat all about us. That's a unilateral friendship.
Ask yourself a question. If you saw a famous person and a stranger of the same age, gender etc. drowning, and you could only save one, who would you save?
Chances are you would instinctively try to save the one you "knew," the famous person. Because your monkey brain would be screaming at you, "This is an important ally! This person is part of your kin, one of the tribe!"
Sadly, however, if you were drowning and a famous person had to choose between you and a stranger... well, you *would* be the stranger. Your monkey brain has mislead you into imagining a reciprocal relationship where there is none. Hope you brought a life jacket.
Have you ever noticed one of those awkward exchanges on Facebook or some other public social media forum, where an Ordinary Bloke makes a rather personal request of Famous Person? And then Famous Person demurs and says, "I'm sorry, I can't do that for everyone who asks, too many people ask." Sometimes it ends there, but sometimes Ordinary Bloke turns nasty... as if he has just been betrayed by a good friend. Of course, Famous Person is NOT his good friend, but Ordinary Bloke feels hurt because that's not what Monkey Brain says. Monkey Brain says he and Famous Person are BFFs, because after all Ordinary Bloke knows EVERY DETAIL of Famous Person's life, just as if they were BFFs.
Here's another thought. No one likes a loser. But everyone likes a winner who was once a loser. There are plenty of people who go from Ordinary Bloke to Famous Person, practically overnight. (Did I mention I know one?)
In fact, I might know more than one of them, because, as it happens, I know a lot of very good writers who are on their way to becoming famous.
You, reading this blog, might well be one of them.
So just keep in mind that once you become a Famous Person, people are going to make more demands of your time and attention than you can give. And at first you'll remember what it felt like to be an Ordinary Bloke, and you'll try to help all of them. Gradually, you'll get tired of that and just blow them off. As long as you are polite, that's just what you have to do, because you are only one person and you can't be BFFs with everyone who reads your book or your blog or your brainwaves. (Who knows what media they will have in the future, right?)
Just also keep in mind--whether your are famous yet or not--that an Ordinanry Bloke, even some out-and-out loser, won't necessarily always be a loser. Remember the fairytale where the ugly beggar woman knocks on the door and asks for a crumb? Don't slam the door in her face. Because she's a fairy in disguise. And when she's a Famous Person, she will remember if you treated her like trash.
The safest policy? Treat yourself as if you were already Famous. Your time is valuable; don't squander it. But also treat everyone you meet as if they were Famous too. Seriously, ask yourself, "If this were Famous Person X saying this to me, would I respond differently? Would I let this person drown?"