I lead a charmed life, for all that I’ve had my share of cowpats and nettles.
The last week (Thursday) another person came up to me at my monthly munch and said they were a fan of my writing. This is the third time it’s happened, the first time this year. They’re always so shy about it, and I’m always so touched. Because the thing I take for granted is something people sincerely love. Because ME. Me. Me! ME! Also me.
I’m kinda, sorta famous in that vague sort of way that means people on the internet into my niche might think to mention me. It’s a fundamental thing like liking salt and fat or craving a warm spot when it’s cold (or a cold spot when it’s warm) that positive attention is amazing.
But I’m also scared of being popular.
You’re not supposed to admit you like fame and adoration and you are certainly not supposed to think you deserve it. Not unless you are playing a character ala Dame Edna, or some other fabulous over the top glitter clown like Lady Gaga. Just about every web celebrity I know talks with the same cliches about how much (s)he is humbled by the love, a hundred, a thousand, even a million people caring what they think. Even smugmasters like my gaming idol Jim Sterling occasionally break character to give the dance of adulation. (If you like vidya games and want to see a funny openly poly pansexual feminist guy riff on all the foibles of the industry, check him out). I kind of don’t feel humbled when you praise me. I feel important. Then I feel fucking terrified.
It’s scary because I worry that everyone will notice I lap up the adulation and because I feel incredibly vulnerable. Internet cool is about a balance between insincere meaness (for the LOLz!!!) and sincere rage (SHITLORD! GAMERGATE!) and gratitude (I LOVE OUR FANDOM! YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING!). Everything is pointed out, nothing is ever pointed in even when your art is selfies.
Nobody likes a person who says they are smart, pretty and important. “Do you know who I am?!” is the phrase of social self immolation. On top of that, I’m a woman in an environment known for hostile targeted campaigns of doxing and abuse, writing about intimate sex stuff that could be used to humiliate and deny me employment. I mean I’m pretty sure my bosses, presented with “Pearl is a sexy sex minx!” would be more uncomfortable with the person bugging them than me. My family knows I write smut, even the conservative ones because my father has no filtre. But you never know what sort of damage a determined doxer could do. But it’s still unsettling…