- Many of my friends are going through the same problem. They have built up a certain following on social media. Could be YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. Their fans expect a certain line, a tone, an approach, the voice of a cause they favor.
- COMMENT: This is the 2017 truth dilemma and the nature of fan bases – people who TRUST that the person who stood up to LEAD has integrity and unshakable conviction.
- Then one day, the message changes because time and circumstances change. Their friends denounce them and unfollow. Panic ensues, followed by real depression.
- COMMENT: What they realize is what they were told worked didn't really work as well as they were told. In fact it's one big confidence game. From the top level down to the bottom.
- You loved the love when it was there, but now you face the hate. It can be debilitating. There isn’t a person who hasn’t self censored in order to avoid it.
- COMMENT: When you lose faith in your path it is a deafness of truth that sets in and a time to find the roots that bring you back home to where the heart is.
- But now, you have a different problem. Getting fans and enjoying their praise and attention used to be a source of personal empowerment. It gave you bragging rights. It made you feel valuable. Fame, even in small doses, makes us feel alive and seems to give us purpose. The prospect of it going away does the reverse: it is embarrassing, devaluing, and disorienting.
- You are living a lie because you think it is better than facing the wrath of your followers. You find yourself caged by the fans you once saw as your liberation.
- I’m sure this happens on the political left but I’m most familiar with cases where this happened to people on the political right. Over the last two years, they drifted further into nationalist, nativist, and racialist thinking, gaining a bigger following with each edgy step. The more anger they expressed, the more people cheered. The more extreme their claims, the more fans they gained.
- But it gets exhausting over time. And much of it turns out to be exaggerated, imbalanced, distorted, and manipulative. Now they find themselves a bit creeped out by the world in which they have found themselves. But they don’t know how to leave. Will they be denounced as enemies? Will they be doxed?
- This week, I’ve had three people tell me of their fears to unfriend the same person because his temperament seems to be worsening to the point even of hinting at violence. How many more like him are there among your followers? Just thinking about this prospect makes you want to play it as safe as possible. It’s as this point that social media is no longer fun.
- COMMENT: Holy moses – this is what happens when the hollywood magic spell wears off and the duped flock turn on the master to feed off of his flesh.
- Any public figure today knows exactly what I mean.
- Today’s social media entrepreneurs are discovering a truth known since the ancient world, confirmed by all psychological research: fame operates on the human mind like an addictive drug. Consuming it without understanding the danger can lead to disaster. You end up giving up all that really matters in exchange for what is absolutely unsustainable.
- COMMENT: This is the truth of things known and unknown, I've had the same pattern manifest.
- At some point, as Marcus Aurelius says, no matter how famous and seemingly beloved you are, you will be displaced. Just as one sand dune covers another in the evolution of a desert, so too “former deeds are quickly hidden by those that follow after.”
- My friend’s advice to young social media stars is slightly different: pay as little attention as possible to praise. Do not come to believe the flattery heaped on you by your fans. Their loyalty to you is as thin as water.
- As much as possible, stay focused on the mission that drove you here in the first place: the art, the ideas, the notion of truth, the love of communication. Whatever it is, don’t ever let your lust for fame and followers displace it.
- In other words, earn your following by just standing by what you believe. Sincerity and honesty are always better than currying favor from the crowd. If you have made the mistake in the past of chasing likes and follows at the expense of your personal integrity, it is a sunk-cost fallacy to continue in this direction. Stop now. Then use the block, unfollow, unfriend, and mute buttons liberally.
- To live authentically is more important than racking up ever higher viewer metrics. To say and do the thing you must say or do–even though you know for sure that your biggest fans will be outraged–is part of living the good and happy life.
- Yes, there could be a short-term cost. It could be very high. On the other hand, you can escape the cage you built for yourself, feel better about what you do, and, if all goes well, you can eventually replace every lost follower with two more people who will always appreciate how you modeled the meaning of integrity.
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