I follow various folks on Twitter including famous and semi-famous writers, celebrities and other public people, all of whom have far more than (checks the bird) my 60 followers.
- Sometimes I retweet something they’ve said.
- Sometimes I even reply directly to them.
- Once in a truly rare while, the person replies back, or at least presses the little heart button that means they like my comment.
And here’s where things get tricky.
I have family, friends, pets, colleagues and all sorts of other people whose feelings of me range from “love” (the dog and on good days the Dearly Beloved) to “like” (most people in my circle) to “tolerate because you feed me and have a nice warm tummy to curl up on” (that would be the cat). By observation, I am a reasonable normal, grounded individual.
But when someone more famous than me responds – even by so little as clicking “like” on a Twitter comment – boy, it’s flattering and I want it to happen again.
The temptation is huge – try to come up with an even wittier response to send them, or tag them in on a conversation I think they’d be interested? If they respond or like that, well, now we’re friends!
And that’s where obsession can creep in.
I started thinking of this when one of the awesome folks I follow tweeted a link to an article about her equally awesome husband, well-known in the SF/F Industry, who is (hopefully) going to be nominated for SFWA “Fan of the Year.” He’s done a ton of great things over the years and won other accolades but is deserving of this honor. I hope he is nominated, and I hope he wins.
But as I went to reply to her tweet with… something hopefully witty yet sincere and that she’d certainly wish to respond to and then we could have an entire conversation…. my brain clicked on.
This lady who has never met me (odds are supremely good never will) doesn’t need me jumping in to share her pride in her spouse; her joy in his accomplishments; their happy day.
As a matter of fact, there’s a good chance my jumping in with something I thought was witty but only made to half-witty would reduce her pride, joy and happiness.
Her happiness is not mine and I shouldn’t try to seize it.
But since she’s responded to me once or twice, even carried on a brief direct message conversation once, I feel like I know her.
I was starting to feel like I have the right. That’s a trap.
As noted above, I have my own family, friends, etc. etc. and boy, am I lucky to have them: with and through them I can generate my own pride, joy and happiness. There are a lot of people who don’t have this, and I think this is where a lot of obsession lives. In trying to hitch onto others’ happiness; or the converse, feeding from another’s misery to make ourselves feel better by comparison.
It’s time for me to walk softly and carry a very big stick, ready to use on myself if I ever get too caught up in chasing approval from people more famous than me. It’s not good for me, or for them, or society in general.