I could try, but I don’t know how to explain it to someone who doesn’t want to be famous. Not being famous is just painful – like, it makes me feel sad and small and unimportant whenever I think about it so mostly I try not to think about it. If you don’t experience that then I’d guess you probably wouldn’t want to be famous, but I can’t necessarily explain why I experience that to someone whose mind is different enough that they don’t get it. Most of the time I assume everyone desperately wants to be famous but some of us are doing better/worse jobs of processing and dealing with the fact we’re unlikely to make it?
I think it’s partly a sense that things can’t be important if they’re not witnessed and remembered. If I do something really cool but nobody knows about it, then what was the point? It’s the sense of emptiness when you make a funny joke and then realise that yeah, that was clever and cool and you were terribly witty, but there’s only one person around to hear the joke so it’s kind of wasted.
Humans are like, the only important thing in this world. Making people happy and making them laugh and improving their lives is the only thing worth doing. That means ‘did humans like the thing’ is the only worthwhile measure of ‘was the thing good’. And I know that, say, donating money to charity is doing better on that metric than writing popular songs, because the recipients of charity like Being Alive more than the average human likes good music. If you measure by happiness caused, Bill Gates is way way more famous/popular than any singer. But my monkey brain is not very good at directly measuring happiness created, and therefore measures by number of fans and loudness of appreciation, and my monkey brain is basically never going to let me be happy unless I achieve at least some of that.
Being famous often involves also being rich. If you’re not rich already by the time you’re famous, you can rake in money by charging people to come to stadiums and listen to you talk. And being rich is really important to me. Partly so I can donate lots of money and make the world better. Partly just… I know in an abstract sense that, across the population, money doesn’t increase quality of life beyond a certain point, but I do think that varies a lot person by person. I have a ridiculous amount of financial anxiety that often means I don’t buy things that would improve my quality of life even if I can afford them, because I’m like “omg if I buy too many things I will RUN OUT OF MONEY AND STARVE AND DIE”. And I also have an annoying tendency to develop expensive taste in things, extreme executive function issues which would be really improved with the application of Enough Money That I Don’t Have To Do Things, and some amount of trauma that causes me to equate money with safety. So I end up really caring about money, even though I feel like this is deeply unvirtuous and I’m a bad person for caring about mere things and bank accounts and I should be a better socialist and etc etc.
Sometimes it’s about feeling powerless. A lot of people seem to think that the limiting factor on “speaking up about things that are wrong” is courage – like, if you’re brave enough to speak out, you’ll fix everything. Well, sometimes I speak out against things I think are wrong even though it’s scary, and …. nothing happens. Like literally I can submit articles but they won’t get published, my social media posts won’t get any meaningful number of notes / likes / responses / whatever, and there’s a limited number of people I can reach with face to face conversations. I can view things happening in society and want to be like “hey don’t go there” and I’m just…. completely voiceless in things that are so much bigger than I am. I do not understand people who do not get a sense of Lovecraftian horror from this.
I’ve had small followings in the past. One time I was in an RPG group that got a bit out of hand and there were 40-odd kids who considered me their leader and conducted ‘warfare’ at my command (where ‘warfare’ meant ‘invade other people’s threads and shout about how great we are’, yes I know this is stupid and embarrassing and bad, we all had that 13 year old phase), another time I ran some clubs in my sixth form and I had 30-odd students who went to all the different clubs I ran and jokingly called themselves my cult, another time I was writing a fanfic and had a decent amount of fans (which I subsequently abandoned and I think the site got taken down). And it’s incredibly good and I miss it and I want it back. Like, yeah, partly it’s just a self-confidence boost and it’s nice to have people who pay attention to you. But there’s also other things, like, I always have lots of ideas for projects and it’s nice to be able to give other people quests rather than trying to do everything myself and overloading myself. It makes me a better person when I think I have to be a good role model, and when nobody’s paying attention to me it’s huge how much I slip into being bad because I feel like it doesn’t matter. Always having fans around means you can always get someone to lend a hand with your project, give you feedback on some work you’re doing, compliment you when you need it. Maybe being large scale famous is nothing like that, but I definitely want… that.
I guess I just want to matter on a bigger scale than I currently do.
I strongly relate to most of these reasons. But actually, if someone were to ask me why I want to be famous, the first thing that comes to my mind is a one-sentence response: Having only one life to live, I just want to achieve greatness in some sense, and becoming famous would somehow be confirmation of that.
But when I write that “out loud”, it doesn’t sound nearly as reasonable as winged-light’s explanation.
No that sounds totally reasonable, and honestly it captures what I mean a bit better.
I think the third paragraph is basically that, yeah.
This is super interesting. One of my favorite things is to read a good explication of some feeling or desire I can’t relate to. I realize now that I had been typical-minding and assuming that people who said they wanted to be “rich and famous” were just saying that because everyone else said it, because it was the Thing to say… because no one could actually want that, since I don’t want that.
See, I have the desire to be significant and accomplished and whatnot, but I don’t intuitively connect that to fame. Being on the front page of a tabloid sounds like an unpleasant experience, and I’d rather just see my name at the top of the Giant Cosmic Leaderboard, even if few people know who I am.
Agree. Fame is an unfortunate symptom of excellence.
I’m mostly with wirehead-wannabe and PDV on this. “Did humans like the thing” is the only measure that matters, but for a lot of things my own liking it counts for more than a hundred randos liking it. But I’m not gonna deny that my heart warms a bit when kids ask my coworkers and I how they can be like us when they grow up. It’s less wanting to be noticed and more wanting to be aspired to, the tangible reminder that what I’ve got is by the standards of the current world something worth striving for. I wouldn’t want to be noticed by *lots* of people, though, because it would lead to stuff like people making up rumors about me and scrutinizing everything I said.
#interesting #is the blue I see the same as the blue you see #I’m not sure about my own feelings on the matter #except for a sense that fame is so *dangerous* that any positive aspects it has can’t possibly be worth it #better to be a peasant and have nobody care whether you live or die #than to be a monarch and have lots of people actively *trying* to kill you #and that this mostly generalises to other lower-stakes hierarchies #I’m not sure to what extent I endorse that sense #at least somewhat #I guess that probably puts me in the same category as the people later in the reblog chain #(edit: I definitely understand the miser issues though) #(and while I am not *especially* prone to developing expensive taste) #(I have occasionally been known to avoid trying expensive food specifically because I was worried I would like it and want to buy it again)