A friend of mine lives in LA, and does LA things. This means that he often interacts with LA people. This can be awkward, because there’s nothing like facing an individual the majority of our species has declared “popular”, and realizing you have absolutely nothing to bring to the conversation. I’ve been there.
In the course of discussing this, I pointed out that the real issue isn’t the famous person’s greatness. Unless they’re an ass, they’re not going to have a problem talking to a “normal” human being once in a while. The problem is that my friend and I are both operating under the mistaken belief that because neither of us have ever done something to earn the approval of the faceless, mewling, masses- be it running a country or uploading a video of a cat- we are therefore not worthy of speaking to someone who has. And that’s pretty stupid. It’s a self-esteem issue, and frankly we’re both egotistical enough that we should be beyond such things.
This makes me think of a story once told by the Rabbi of my childhood synagogue. Calm down, it’s not a religious one.
Rabbi Lewis was a great man, and I’ve been meaning to write several things about him here. But it’s a very emotional issue for me, and very, very hard. So as you read this, just imagine the story is ten times better than how I’ve written it.
“I was on vacation, on the beach. I was wading out, in the water, and a man came up to me, and we started talking. And he says to me “What’s your glory?”
I said, “What?”
He says, “What’s your glory? Your strength? What do you do?”
So, nu- I’m going to tell him I’m a rabbi? (Rabbi Lewis shrugs) So I said, “I’m a teacher.”
And he took a step backwards and he says-
“Man- that’s some glory.”
Admittedly, this conversation took place well before the age of YouTube and Unique Impressions. Still, I have a hard time believing this guy would have been as impressed if the Rabbi said “I have 100,000 fans on Facebook.”
We’re not all teachers (although, come to think of it, my friend and I both teach) but we all have accomplishments and skills that make us who we are. What we do may never get a million hits. But the truth is even a million hits won’t make you feel comfortable talking to someone you perceive as “bigger” than you. You may have uploaded the original Keyboard Cat video, but if you don’t believe you’re the equal of the “star” you’re talking to, then you’re not.
Of course, if you did upload a funny cat video, you could always break the ice by showing them that first.