Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Fame Game


With complete sincerity I can say that I now understand the bizarre choices that Miley Cyrus has made. I get what made Amanda Bynes go crazy, what has led America to want to deport Justin Bieber, and why Ke$ha spells her name like she does.

It is fame.

Fame makes you go a little bit against your better judgment, question your morals, and seek extremes in order to continue that climb up the fame ladder.

My fame is only insta, and not really my own to claim but that of my pet hedgehog.

When I first launched Ernest into the Instagram world, it was fun. Gaining a few new followers each day, a hundred followers a week and soon enough over 1,000 followers, well, it was exciting. And when we hit the jackpot and got posted on Instagram's feed, man, the surge of followers was invigorating.  That rapid fire climb from 2,300 followers to 20k was my instadream come true. And then over night that number climbed even higher until it quickly climbed to 35k+!

I had won and the numbers were mine.

But now, it seems like I'm playing a new game - the fame game. Like somehow in order to keep people around, I have to push the limits of what Ernest's feed has always been about, which is a cute animal that sits on books and listens to Etta James records. It was classy and simple.

Now, there is a lot of pressure riding on the shoulders of a tiny little animal who doesn't actually have shoulders. How far can I go? How far am I willing to go in order to not only be instafamous but hold real fame?

Sometimes, I notice that the numbers are going down and my knee jerk reaction is to take offense. Like, what, are pictures of a hedgehog not good enough for you anymore? But then I have to remind myself of all those feeds that I myself have stopped following because I was simply in the mood for a different set of pictures. And, I remind myself that it is a huge pet peeve of mine when people say that phrase, 'why follow to unfollow.' I hate the pressure of that phrase and it is really annoying when people come asking about why you stopped following. The long and short of it for me is simply that my interests changed. So, even though people stop following, I have to respect their decision. I get it; I myself have clicked the unfollow button on many hedgehog accounts.

In today's world, people simply are not as committed. We have such a broad reach of media of which we can be fans that it is hard for people to stay anywhere for too long. Be it a show, musician, fashion style, or instagram feed, we like something for a while and then we move on, because there is simply something new or different that comes along.  Everything changes at such a quick rate that to stay relevant you have to push boundaries.

This is what drives people to scrap a bit of their dignity along the way. Miley Cyrus was losing her fan base. The pre-teens that liked Hannah Montana had grown up and were now turning their focus elsewhere. She couldn't remain a mediocre pop-star and continue to grow her fame. She had to push the limits. And so she has. She's pushed them hard. The result is a girl who is nothing like the person she once appeared to be.

I can't help but wonder if the sacrifices were worth the gain.

For me, my Ernest Hedgingway Instagram was created because I like books and I like my hedgehog and I like pictures and I like the trinkets in my apartment. It began because it was fun.

It still is fun, but there are a few new emotions creeping in: greed and insecurity. And those just don't belong. Those make me think it is time for extremes. I NEED MORE. I NEED TO BE LIKED. Of course extreme with a hedgehog would be to adopt him a furry friend to name Hadley and create a beautiful unlikely romance. Or create an unsafe environment for Ernest just to create the perfect, mind boggling shot--such as suspending him from a bundle of helium balloons (not that I've tried that).

Though the pet romance would be adorbs, it is just not going to happen (roommate cousin vetoed adopting a kitten). And the other would make me go against what I believe in, which is animal rights and animal protection. Perhaps I would become uber famous, but the cost for me would be the loss of my self-respect. I might listen to Miley's music and youtube her latest video, but I am far from respecting her. What is more important? Millions of fans who follow yet mock or less fans who follow because they truly like you? For me, I'm leaning towards the latter.

So in going forward, I am going to try my hardest to let my love of the feed stay consistent. I'm going to fully appreciate all of the followers who come to stay or come and go.

And...I'm going to remember why I named Ernest after a great literary figure. Because, he is my writing inspiration. He is my little wheel running creature of inspiration that reminds me to read and to write. I named him Ernest Hedgingway not Kim Hedgehogdashian (for other reasons beside the fact that's not a really clever name).

Along with my other writing projects, maybe it is time for my first forage into children's books with a story focused on the one and only, Ernest M. Hedgingway. Who knows, maybe something sweet and innocent really is the ticket? Something that hooks people for the long term instead of a short while.

I don't know what the future holds for my instafame, which in its title indicates the delicate balance it rests on. But this I can know: It will be me. It will have integrity and self respect. It will treat Ernest like the sweet animal he is rather than an object to gain followers. It will continue to be a feed that encourages reading. It will be a feed with cute pictures that bring a smile to someone's face, be it a few or thousands. And most importantly, it will continue to be something I do because it is fun.

The fame game. If in order to win I have to lose, well then, it isn't really a game I want to play. 

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