I had an odd thought the other night while I was attending a Duran Duran concert. (I’m writing my review for my column.) It had to do with fame and the modern age of technology. There is a belief now that pretty much anybody can be a celebrity of at least low level, minor caliber, because of the internet, blogging, and You Tube. Of course, all three of those are present in my life, and I’m still more known by people who have met me than by people who know me from my web presence.
What occurred to me was that even though it was an all-star thing with bands, football players, and a supermodel, the truth is that after the show I was waiting for the traffic to thin out, and I was looking at all the people who aren’t famous. No matter how prevalent the internet is, no matter how easy it is to self publish and post videos, there simply will always be people who are known in their circle of family of friends. Even notable people in a region, like a local band that has done well but hasn’t gone national or the owner of highly successful local business, are technically famous, but at a lower level.
The truth is that even among the famous involved in the show the levels of fame varied. I’m sure the football players are well known among football fans, but I didn’t know them. No one who I’ve talked to has known who the supermodel was, and while I now know that she is Marissa Miller, I had never heard of her before. I know who Jason Derulo is, but not everyone else seems to, and I couldn’t tell you who was in his band, or the names of the dancers. I know who Kid Rock is, but couldn’t name anyone else in his band. I know the four currently official members of Duran Duran, but I don’t know who else was playing with the band.
You’ve heard the math problem where you start with a penny and double it every day for a month, and at the end of thirty days you have $10, 737, 418. And 23 cents as well. Almost eleven million dollars. It’s too bad that interest on investments isn’t anywhere near that good.
What if you were to start with one person who knows who you are by name, sight, and reason for you fame, and then you double the amount every year for 30 years? You would have 1,073,741,823, or almost 1.1 billion, who you are famous too, and even with that crazy figure, after 30 years you would only be known by one-sixth of the population of the world. You would be famous. You would be successful. You would be amazingly wealthy. But can you name the president of Finland? While we’re at it, does Finland have a president? Fame is a very weird thing after all isn’t it?
By writing this, I’m not trying to squash anybody’s desire to be famous. I know that it’s not going to stop me from trying. I merely got to thinking about how fame works, and how it doesn’t work. It was eye opening. It didn’t thin out the traffic any faster, but at least I had something to ponder.