What a fleeting thing fame is.
By some random quirk of fate, 4 weeks ago my blog was picked up by “Blogs Of Note” (See also Concerning the Historie and Nature of Blogs of Note. Overnight I went from 50 visits a day to 5,000. For the following 10 days I averaged around 1,000, and then suddenly it dropped to around 150 a day where it has remained for the past 2 weeks.
For a while I suspected the line I used in the blog post prior to the loss of visitors, “As self-medications go, it’s not as harmful as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, organised religion or voting Republican…” was responsible. Clearly I had upset an awful lot of drug abusing, alcoholic, religious republicans. But upon reflection, I think it was more to do with the fact I’d moved off the front page of Blogs of Note, where they only display their 10 most recently featured blogs.
When the maelstrom began I kept thinking, if only this had happened 2 or 3 years ago when I was still intending to become a writer, rather than a photographer. This sudden rush of attention and interested followers would have been exactly what I needed.
But now the storm has passed, I realise I’m quite pleased it didn’t.
It’s not that I wouldn’t have enjoyed the attention, rather I’d have probably been more devastated by the massive drop off in attention in the following weeks.
I mean, look over there on the sidebar on the right, at the Google Followers widget – it used to say 40, and I got around 50 visits a day. Now it says 875 but I get 150 visits a day. Clearly the vast majority of my new Followers are no longer following. It’s not a sign of how popular I am, only a footprint of how popular I was.
We think if we manage to get thrust into the spotlight then we’ll have arrived, when in fact all we are is a minor curiosity for a fleeting moment.
We all know, we’ve all read a thousand times, how fame is full of false promises, is shallow, hollow, smoke and mirrors, and completely pointless. And yet we still want it. We believe it will be a stepping stone to something more.
But what more do I actually want?
Certainly it would be nice to have more money, to own the house I live in, and to be free of the tiredness of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (although fame and money wouldn’t cure me of that).
But it’s like the idea of what would happen if we won the lottery (assuming we bothered to buy a ticket, that is) – what would we do? Ok, we’d buy a house, and a couple of cars, and have some nice holidays. But then what? Well, then I’d pursue my photography and Maggie would continue with her art. Our lives, fundamentally, wouldn’t be much different.
When we decided 6 or 7 years ago to create the kind of life we wanted to live, the biggest decision was made then. Rather than wait for fate to intervene and give us a lottery win so we could do whatever we wanted, we worked out what we wanted and decided to set about creating that life.
Fortune might help us speed it up a bit (and if someone’s got a spare million they want to throw our way, I won’t object), but Fame would only take me away from what I truly want and enjoy.
However, as the visitor statistics show, my brief blogging fame was only an illusion anyway.
I think the vast majority of attention I gained was from new bloggers who were casting around to see how it was done, and then gave up.
In those first 2 weeks I received dozens and dozens of emails from people who had just started up their blog and had found me through Blogs of Note. They saw I had these hundreds of followers and believed I must have access to arcane knowledge of how to create a successful blog, not grasping the fact that for 4 years I had accumulated no more than 40 followers (lovely, beautiful, wonderful followers of course), and it was only a random chance event that gave me a 2000% increase in numbers.
However, for those who still insist I must have some kind of supernatural assistance, I have created this for you (click on it for a larger version if the text is too small):
* you can create your own South Park style cartoon characters at http://www.sp-studio.de/. Putting them together into cartoon strips requires an image editing programme like Photoshop or Gimp, an obsessive temperament and too much time to waste.