My Glorious Ice-Cream Pants, or: The Danger of Small Fame

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I have small fame. Small fame is pretty easy to get on the Internet.
“Small fame,” for the record, is that nebulous area where you have a couple of thousand fans – not enough to earn a living off of, but enough where every post you make gets a flurry of comments, and you occasionally get fan mail (which is quite nice), and if you squint nicely and don’t walk outside the Internet you can fool yourself into thinking that you are a Very Important Person.
(The way you can tell whether you have small fame or actual fame is to walk around the mall to get yourself an ice cream. Does anyone recognize you when you’re in a generically public place? They don’t? Then you’re not actually famous.)
But there’s plenty of places for people to get small fame. There’s lots of small famous people on Twitter, and small famous people on Tumblr, and Instagram and even FetLife, and tons of other places. It’s nice, like I said.
Until some of these these people self-destruct.
And what nobody tells you about small fame is that it comes with a problematic cadre of core fans, who – if you’re not careful – will mislead you.
Because what you see happening with this small fame, repeatedly, is that someone who’s now got a larger platform says something quite stupid. This is not because they themselves are necessarily stupid – “stupid” is a state that most of us fall into periodically, where we accidentally wash our hair with Vagisil or run through a stoplight or say something ill-thought-out on the Internets.
And the good news is that most of us have friends who’ll serve the same function as bumpers on a pinball table – they’ll go, “Wow, that was pretty silly of you,” and send you rebounding back into the Not-Stupid Zone.
We take our cues from our fellow humans, because we are social creatures. If you were to one day wake up and go, “I would like to wear pants made entirely of ice cream,” you would discover people staring and complaining about the ice cream drips and noticing that shortly afterwards you were displaying Rocky Road-smeared naughty bits about.
And so you would learn that this is maaaaaybe not your wisest idea, and rethink this ice cream-pants travesty.
But if you have small fame, you will have acquired a group of core fans who will love whatever you do. They are so like you that they are almost echoes of you, and will applaud and cheer and justify almost any action you would consider taking. They are not bad people, but they adore you simply because they are so close in tone and temperament to you that realistically, it’s like having a cheering section composed entirely of clones.
They will tell you these ice-cream pants are spectacular.
They will tell you that the folks complaining about the trails of dribbling Rocky Road you leave everywhere are irrationally afraid of ants.
They will tell you that anyone who doesn’t want to watch your peanut-coated nethers is just too damned prissy for their own good.
And if you are not careful, you will listen to these core fans, and not to the rest of the world frantically waving their arms and trying to warn you about the swarms of impending yellowjackets drawn to your sugar-clad genitalia.
Once you get past a certain point, you can get drunk on your own fame, and start listening to these core fans only, and start marking anyone who disagrees with you as The Enemy. When they’re not, in fact, The Enemy, but a friend who is trying to point out that hey, your ass is showing.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s a lot more comfortable to live in the core group. They don’t question you. They defend you. They cheer you. No matter what idiotic thing you do, they will assure you that ZOMG, you were correct, and look at all those idiots out there denigrating you. And you’ll come to believe that anyone who criticize you is a jealous fool, because hey, I have this cheering squad over here, how can I be wrong with all these metronome-nodding heads assuring me I’m right?
And if you’re dim, you never do the math and realize you’ve got about a hundred people relentlessly nodding their heads, and ten thousand people disparaging these fantastic ice-cream pants.
It’s sad, when someone vanishes up their own ass like that. Some of the best things I’ve learned have been from people who have, sometimes quite rudely, put me in my place. And it was painful at the time, and embarrassing, and not something I wanted to do at all, but in the end I learned how to be a better and wiser human being, and to compose pants made out of much more durable waffles.
But if you’re on the Internets, one day you too may be lucky enough to experience the danger of small fame. And when that happens, go to the mall, look around, notice how nobody is paying attention to you at all, notice how when you step outside this carefully-constructed framework you are not, in fact, such a much.
And breathe thanks that you still have people who will call you out when you’re foolish. It’s actually a blessing, I assure you.

1 Comment

  1. Lee Cockrum
    Apr 25, 2015

    You have a most unusual way of looking at things!!! This gets your point across, but quite the unique examples to illustrate the concepts:)

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