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Striving for Anonymity

Linda Ronstadt had an interesting quote in a recent People magazine article. (Cover-to-cover, baby; I read that magazine with the same care I bring to Foucault.) When asked if she misses being a pop star, she answered, “I miss singing, but not performing.  I don’t miss fame — it’s unnatural.  I like having my anonymity.”

Fame is one of those things that people assume everyone wants, even though that’s not the case.  It’s sort of like blog readership; people assume everyone wants a wide readership, and certainly there is enough advice floating around out there to support why people make that assumption.  But there is something unnatural about your words reaching a wide audience; in speaking with people you would have otherwise never encountered.  That goes for all celebrity, whether it’s reached through music as a pop star or through writing as a blogger.

I guess I know what I mean by unnatural, but I’d love to know what Ronstadt meant.  Does she mean that fame taxes the system?  That in an ideal world, favours and attention would be asked of and doled out to everyone on a fairly equal basis.  But when fame enters the picture, too many favours are asked for a single person to deliver and too much attention is focused on a single person to feel good?  Or does she think our national pastime of reading about celebrity’s lives is unnatural? (They’ll pry People magazine from my fingers when I’m cold and dead!)

With all of that, I have to admit that the recent Daniel Radcliffe article in the New York Times got under my skin and made me feel blue the rest of the day.  What sort of life is that?  Reading a day in his life made me feel trapped, and I’m not even living it.  I don’t think anyone likes to think about how depleted we could become from fame.  Most of the time when we talk about it, we only consider the advantages; the perks.

I guess I’m interested in this unnaturalness, mostly because for all the good points of blogging — bringing together people who would otherwise never meet, spreading ideas like wildfire, influencing another person’s life —  there are also all the drawbacks of a person’s words reaching beyond their small community of family and friends; namely, bringing together people who would otherwise never meet, spreading ideas like wildfire, influencing another person’s life.  Everything positive about blogging can be inverted into something negative about blogging when seen through a certain lens, especially when it comes to certain topics or online behaviour.

A case in point being the recent government shutdown.  Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss when it comes to social media, and I wish I hadn’t read what some people think.  A case in point being that gorgeous post by Blood Signs.  If she hadn’t posted that, I would have never known her thoughts; been so moved by them.  Without blogging, her words would have remained in her state, and I would have remained in mine.  And the barrier of space would have been between us rather than a connection.

Your thoughts?

8 comments

1 Mina { 10.22.13 at 8:46 am }

I am quite pleased I am not famous, and that the chances of that happening are hugging the zero of nothingness. I hate this trend of looking for the 15 minutes of fame that the contests on tv promote, be it through singing, baking, cooking dinner for stangers or putting your daily life on display. I still watch the shows nonetheless.

As for the blogging, well, no one can’t please everybody. But the fame reached by writing the words will never be as great as the fame that comes by singing or saying other people’s words on film. Which only shows how shallow we humans are, we praise more the people who act and entertain the masses than the people who create what is acted on film and entertain one reading mind at a time.

2 Brid { 10.22.13 at 11:01 am }

I think humans are inherently unnatural… is that a contradiction? Society and culture take that from us, maybe. Maybe celebrity and fame is sort of like a hyper lens, or macro-form of society that pushes that unnaturalness to its boundary. I don’t know why (because it often makes me cringe), but I often look at the list of Notable Deaths on Wikipedia and I am always disappointed by how much the list is dominated by entertainers. It would be interesting to take the list and break down the demographics. It’s also extremely male-dominated, which sometimes makes me sad. But worse, sometimes there’s a tag on a name that suggests the person does not meet Wikipedia notability standards… sadder

3 Another Dreamer { 10.22.13 at 1:34 pm }

I would never want to be famous- no way. I wanted to be a novelist, and sometimes still hope to come back to that dream when I’m emotionally ready, but even then… under a pen name. I like being anonymous, having a simple life, the lack of widespread judgement… I’m a socially awkward introvert. I won some writing awards in college, had to do a reading, and I was shivering like a leaf chattering my words out.

I like blogging anonymously, and I do like sharing my words, I just have trouble with what comes after that.

4 It Is What It Is { 10.22.13 at 6:28 pm }

I think that what is unnatural about fame is that people, the general public, is interested in you for what you do and not who you are. They have a perception of you that is largely created because of your craft and it is unnatural to think you ‘know’ someone or even that you would want to know someone because you know them through what they do.

Case in point, Criminal Minds is filming two houses away today. I saw Shemar Moore between scenes. I know nothing about the man, but I know a bit about the roles he’s played. That alone doesn’t make me want a picture with him or to even intro myself to him because, why? But, I see my neighbors flocking and, for him, that must feel unnatural (even if he gets it).

Does that make sense?

5 Brid { 10.22.13 at 10:15 pm }

Hi It Is What It Is, I also find that interesting… when people flock towards celebs. We saw Don Cherry in the Vancouver Airport last year and he had quite a gathering. I get that a lot of people don’t want celebrity, but I think there is an obscene percentage of many populations that do… There seems to be this vast desire to be that so-called special or important person. Think about Kate Middleton too… maybe celebrity provides some sort of class mobility or something… Maybe the neighbours who flock are the types that actually do want that validation of celebrity.

6 Mel { 10.22.13 at 10:31 pm }

But it’s also interesting how celebrities don’t know the times we’ve (like It is What It is above) spared them from the attention at inopportune times. The small favours. Think about how many other small favours we don’t know of things that people have withheld from us. We only know the things they’ve done, not the things they haven’t done.

7 Lori Lavender Luz { 10.23.13 at 8:39 pm }

I know that blogging, like so many things in life, is a double edged sword. But I am so thankful for a person’s words reaching beyond their small community of family and friends, for bringing together people who would otherwise never meet, spreading ideas like wildfire, influencing another person’s life. This part of blogging, along with the likes of you and BloodSigns, has changed my life for the richer.

8 Dora { 10.24.13 at 12:58 pm }

I know I’m late commenting here, but that Radcliffe article got to me, too. Then … I read the comments there. Oh, Dan! Who knew you had so much in common with infertiles! The unsolicited assvice! OMG, someone even commented that Radcliffe should take up yoga. Oy vey!

And personally, I like my semi-anonymity with my often neglected blog. No thanks to a viral post for me.

P.S. Love your new glasses!

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