You’re not an online superstar influencer, not a recognized thought leader, just an average guy – so, why are you even talking?
“Public” has become the new currency of the attention economy, it seems.
For success, it’s necessary and sometimes even sufficient to be well-known. Be known, and your word counts. Be known, and your supporters will rally around you all the more when your detractors attack. Be known, and the influence you wield in social media serves as proof that you must be worth that same influence.
Self-validation, even for the less-known person, comes from likes and shares, and what succeeds there is that which draws attention, makes people click “like” before they’ve even read anything more, entices us to click on through link-bait headlines. The easy, extraordinary, attitude-affirming, giving a sugary boost to pampered selves. It’s the rise of the online influencer.
And thus, even as privacy concerns mount, there are all those who look for influence, “klout,” and attention. Sensible curators of the deluge of information, insipid thought leaders, inspiring role models, peddlers of solutions both sensible and snake-oil.
Whether it’s intellectual(ist) endeavor or lifestyle design, personal development or athletic achievement, it’s the pinnacles of publicity that seem to have become the only real models. The influence and the influencing reinforce each other. If you’re not the fastest, the richest, the most-widely adored, what are you even thinking, trying to teach anyone anything? If you were good, you’d already be known.
But don’t forget to also have production values that are of the greatest and presentations that are perfect, for anything less than a TED talk (with the cachet and the cues to be wowed and applaud, now!) will not do. It’s social media, where everyone can share their ideas – and the trolls are fed.
Moderate giftedness has been made worthless by the printing press and radio and television and satellites and all that. A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but world’s champions. -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Or so, spending too much time online can make things look. It inspires some, but it also inspires ire and a search for the faults. It makes it even more difficult than it always has been to just be average and aspire to better. But of course, we all are somewhere around average, on average, and we all start small and somewhat stupid.
Maybe it’s just because I, too, am an exceedingly small fish in a worldwide ocean of ideas and people shouting for attention, but it seems to me that we are overlooking a need for fewer superstar geniuses and more inspiring idiots and everyday adventurers (like ourselves).
The average people who are just so-called friends interacted with online and showing something of how they are living ordinary lives extraordinarily – with all the usual problems of making a living, of being in relationships that are going more or less smoothly, of having dreams as well as doubts and fears, but also of learning more, of keeping up fitness, of having issues which are close to their hearts and which they want to influence for the better – it is them who seem rather more inspiring to me than all the usual “influencers” and “thought leaders” thrice removed.
The superstar people are so attention-catching, of course a person will be influenced by it, maybe get caught up in it… but it’s even easier with them than anyone else to just chalk their success up to luck and lucky genetics, hard work under different circumstances, different conditions and characters. Things to maybe learn from, likely just pack it in because one will never be like that.
It bears repeating: The superstars and attention-getters aren’t the mythical gods and goddesses without any problems we make them out to be. They, too, have started out small and stupid and they, too, have their faults and face their own demons and challenges.
Social comparison with them, if you don’t happen to be the kind of person who has to aim the highest and won’t be undaunted by the difference in (seeming) accomplishment, is a recipe for just giving up. Some of them may say, and gain their success by saying, that you, too, can do just what they did, but their very success makes it more difficult for anyone else, for anyone but them would just be a copy-cat also-ran.
Yet, if you want to live better, grow stronger, learn more, then do aim to become your better self.
Don’t aim for anyone else who’s out of reach, for they are not you, though. Just start, acknowledge the strength that lies in weaknesses, the obvious it makes the faults that need work, and get going. This way, you’ll also discover the things you’re good at. And hopefully, you’ll discover that the measure of the good that is public, and especially online, attention is at least as much of a distraction as it is real. What’s more important is that you actually live *your* life, to the best of your abilities. And better.
I’ll be right alongside you ;)