The Fame Monster

Conversations with myself.

“Do you ever miss it?”

“Miss what?”

“Fame. Being famous.”

“I was never famous.”

“You had a popular personal web site once upon a time. It had decent traffic. People read what you wrote.”

“That’s hardly being famous.”

“But you had a taste of it. You had fans. You had people who wanted to meet you just for being you.”

“I guess.”

“But…?”

“I’d often rather forget about that than remember it.”

“So you don’t miss it.”

“Not very much.”

“Aha! So you miss it a little!”

“No one actually says ‘Aha!’ Who ever actually said ‘Aha’ except people going to an Aha concert?”

“Get on with it.”

“It’s always nice when people tell you they appreciate your work. It’s nice when you realize that you’re being heard, you’re not alone in your weird thoughts and opinions. Most people were very nice, back then. I wouldn’t want to be famous now.”

“Well, you’re not.”

“I know.”

“Like…at all.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Yet here you are.”

“Here I am.”

“Still at it.”

“Whatever it is.”

“And what is it, exactly, for you? Why are you here? Why are you writing these things? Why do maintain a small Twitter account that will never provide any real sort of meaning for your life? Why are you writing these personal essays on Medium that a handful of people are reading? What is this…drive to keep broadcasting yourself in this virtual manner? It’s not a real relationship you’re forming with anyone. People read these things and forget them tomorrow.”

“And it’s all filtered. I try to present the best side of myself. I generally try not to be too provocative, or too confrontational.”

“Why?”

“Why?”

“Why, if it doesn’t matter. If no one is listening?”

“It’s all I have. Sometimes, it helps. Sometimes I need to say something and there’s no one else to say it to. So I broadcast it out into the vast, wide, silent nothingness of the web, where there’s so much noise that nothing gets noticed unless you scream it with threats.”

“And where are your screams? Where are your threats?”

“I don’t like confrontation of any sort. And I think that I spent so many years teaching myself to remain in a corner and not be noticed, so many years avoiding my own feelings and desires that I killed them, or strangled them to some kind of comatose existence deep inside me. I think people are provocative and confrontational online — at least in part — just to gain some attention.”

“But why?”

“Perhaps they don’t get it in real life. Perhaps it feeds some need, or they got some real attention at some point and it fed something inside them they didn’t realize they had. Like a drug that hits hard, but only once.”

“It’s a pecking order.”

“And sometimes it draws blood.”

“So, when GamerGate was big, for example, when those people decided to gang up on women or…whatever it was they were upset about, you didn’t even engage them, even though you thought they were the same types of bullies you’ve always had to deal with. Out of fear?”

“I’m not…I’ve never really wanted to be famous, or infamous. I didn’t want to have to deal with name-calling and threats, whether they were real or not isn’t really the point. Whether they were anonymous or not played no part in it.”

“You’re a coward, in other words.”

“Mostly.”

“So, when it came time to stand up and say something, when you had a voice to use and could’ve been out there in the streets for gay rights, or for Black Lives Matter, or for the Arab Spring, or for any of the myriad voices against injustice and oppression…you stayed silent.”

“I don’t do…enough.”

“You don’t do anything.”

“I wouldn’t say….”

“You don’t do anything. Even when you know what’s happening is wrong.”

“I don’t do anything.”

“Only this.”