The Untold Price Of Popularity
How To Deal With Your Life & Work Under Constant Scrutiny
How To Deal With Your Life & Work Under Constant Scrutiny
As a creative, your goal is to share your work.
It isn’t for that work to be revered or liked. It’s simply to share it to the widest audience you’re capable of reaching.
The hope is that people like it, appreciate it or agree with it in some way.
The fear is that they do not.
But what if I told you that you didn’t have to be scared. That people who disagree with you and people who discourage you aren’t the same.
I don’t like Beetroot. Some people do.
Not because of its religion, political stance or colour. I just don’t like it.
But halfway through painting my protest banner for my hate campaign against it, I decided that I could just carry on living my life instead.
YOU COULD SAY NOTHING
What if, through some crazy Buddhist-inspired effort, I channelled my rage for Beetroot? What if nobody knew that I didn’t like it and I allowed others to have their opinions?
How much better would the world be if I just promoted my love of Broccoli instead, telling every waiter possible that I’m so glad they offer tenderstem as a side-dish?
The unfortunate thing about the internet is that it thrives on negativity. Facebook groups start Witch-trials, youtube comments spread racist views and Instagram selfies inspire private ridicule.
“Did you see how fat he looks in that shirt?”
Hate is everywhere.
I actually glanced across at someone on a plane as they were reading a women’s magazine. The image was zoomed-in on Radio DJ Fearne Cotton’s underarms for a feature they called ‘Celebrity Sweat Patch’.
A page dedicated to showing how disgusting perfect-little-celebrities are for sweating. A natural biological occurrence we’ve all experienced.
No context was provided, and in that moment I realised the price for popularity.
Are you sure you want to pay it?
THE DONALD TRUMP EFFECT
If a Trump supporter falls in the woods, and nobody is around to kick them while they’re screaming for help on the floor, did they still make a noise?
My guess is that they do, but anti-trump protestors are causing so much noise on the internet, nobody would hear them anyway.
The Trump-phenomenon as it’s been called, was actually so popular that TV shows chose not to air during his 2016 election campaign, through fear of low ratings.
The negativity towards Donald Trump running for office was suffocating. You couldn’t buy a cup of coffee without someone talking about it in line. Each status on Facebook was about his latest faux-pas. I burped my baby and that even sounded like ‘Trump’.
Okay okay! I don’t have a baby, but you get the idea.
Negativity rose to the top of the everyday media as the overwhelming opinion, while those in support of his views kept quiet through fear of persecution.
In private, their opinions were allowed to be realised and Trump sailed on the sea of bigotry he created, docking at some big White House that the news loves showing.
There was a protest in my City of Cardiff in the United Kingdom against Trump when he was sworn in. Outside H&M on a Saturday night.
It had zero impact on the political decisions of a man 3,538 miles away. He won despite the homemade banners and hand-holding of strangers.
He knew that what people publicly say and what they truly believe are two different things.
The type of person Trump was attracting wasn’t the type of person to publicly admit it, through fear.
I’m not a Trump supporter, I’m not a Hilary supporter. I have literally no opinion, but it was an interesting spectacle to observe human behaviour.
Why is it that the person with the loudest opinion is assumed to be correct?
Nobody offers an opposing view to someone who’s aggressively pursuing their opinion. They keep it to themselves.
People don’t value others opinions if they don’t align with their own, and nowhere is that more true than social media.
Social Media has equalised that process. You can criticise anyone, anywhere, anytime… and it’s revealed a disturbing feature of human behaviour.
Every little video, picture or comment you post is being judged privately by your friends and acquaintances.
Before you agree to a life of creative endeavours, I’m giving you fair warning that the most explicit opinions on your work will always be the ones that hate it.
It only takes ONE knife to wound.
SO WHAT PRICE DO YOU HAVE TO PAY?
The price you pay for popularity is constant ridicule.
An audience of 10 might contain 1 brash, opinionated opposer.
When you show your work, whether that be photography, fashion design, magic performances or marketing blogs, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable for attack.
But why do people attack instead of ignoring it?
These toxic people are internally upset. Upset with their own mediocre lives, terrible decisions and lack of work ethic.
Everything is someone else’s fault… or luck.
They attack you to remind you that you’re not better than them. Bringing you down simultaneously elevates them.
Your demise is their ascent.
You did something wrong, they didn’t. So they must be better than you.
This flawed logic dictates their insatiable hunger for more negativity towards you. You just offered them a free tutorial on an original idea, but your video has ‘interlaced frames’. They never make such easy mistakes.
So from their bedroom they complain about that, rather than thanking you for flying to Toronto to film and giving away your intellectual property for free.
Your intention was to help them. Their intention is to denounce you.
From whatever perceived success I’ve gained, I have an intimate audience of mostly supportive people. Like you.
However, as my work gets more attention it inevitably attracts more resentment from a wider audience.
IS THERE ANY SOLUTION?
Knowing that the same applies to you, you have to be brave to share your work. To bare your creativity to the world.
Petty bitching in any industry is an irrational response to the hard work of others.
Dislike my work, but don’t disparage it.
To me, it’s important social commentary that negativity is more popular than anything else posted.
Why not build people up? Why not encourage the success of others?
There’s a fine line between disagreeing with someone and discouraging someone… a few people we all know have crossed that line.
I’m proud of the work I see from others. Anyone putting themselves out there deserves my respect. Even if I didn’t like it personally.
What makes you great isn’t that others are wrong, or worse than you, or doing something you don’t enjoy.
What makes you great are your efforts. Your product.
Don’t look for personal ways to knock people down in order to build yourself up.
People will magnify your mistakes to belittle your success. As your new job only highlights the fact they don’t have one. Your new video only highlights the fact that haven’t created anything today and your constant drive only reminds them that they have none.
The price for popularity, in whatever amounts you receive it, is constant ridicule.
But the benefits are worth far more.
You’ll inspire people, change their lives and enable them to realise their own potential.