Planned, written and edited in a forty minute time limit using the following quotes as inspiration 1. Fame is neither something to value nor to view as a threat
2. Passion for fame: A passion which is the instinct of all great souls.
3. Fame is easy to acquire; impact is much more difficult.
4. Fame has also this great drawback, that if we pursue it, we must direct our lives so as to please the fancy of men.
I can do this. I can do this. It’s just a small walk down the street, I can do this. I repeat the words over and over in my head. The cyclical thought pattern becoming an increasingly present accoutrement to phone, wallet and keys required for a minor outing. I can do this. I can do this.
It has only been over the last few months that I have developed an anxiety around being in public places. A fear of strangers talking to me. It never used to bother me because it never used to happen. It was like an allergy that I didn’t know I had until I visited an exotic restaurant. Except the allergy was social interaction and the exotic restaurant was internet stardom. It happened almost instantaneously after I uploaded the video to youtube. Being a nineties kid I’ve always been well versed with how fast things can spread across the internet. Those older than me who were brought up in an era before the internet describe it as spreading like wildfire. But even this doesn’t do it justice because wildfire only spreads as fast as the wind. Nowadays an idea moves at the speed of light, fanning out in every direction, spreading its tendrils into every nook and cranny that is connected to the internet. And if an idea is worth sharing, then the spread is exponentially faster.
That’s what happened to me. Sure the video started on youtube, but it was only hours before it was shared to instagram, tik tok, snapchat and a host of other social platforms. A viral video as it were. And no vaccine could protect me from the symptoms of this disease. It was only hours before my phone started ringing with journalists and tv reporters wanting to interview me. To get their exclusive rundown of how I did it and who the person behind the idea was. There was no escape, they didn’t care that it was midnight for me, on their side of the world they had just had their morning coffee and were ready to get down to business. Not even the archaic solution of technological disconnection saved me, they simply sent a local news correspondent to knock on my door. To shout through my windows. To stakeout my front gate. A polite no thank you all they needed to publish a slanderous piece on how the fame I had received had gotten to my head, how I must have sold out and forgotten my roots.
I thought it would settle down after a while. I was sure that I would fade into the background and the world would move on like they did with every other overnight internet sensation. But things didn’t settle down, if anything it got worse. In the first few weeks walking around my local area was only ever complicated by the intrusive behaviour of a few internet savvy, but socially inept busy bodies who would stop at no length to place a camera at arm’s length and get uncomfortably close for a selfie. Signatures aren’t good enough these days, apparently you need a picture with someone to truly show your admiration for them, regardless of how rude you need to be to get it done. Now this has become every single day; normal.
I’m not too sure when the social anxiety started, probably after I saw my first fight breakout between two people wanting to get a photo with me. They were both in a hurry and didn’t have time to wait for each other and things escalated. It terrified me. How long until some psychopathic fan wants to hurt me instead of one of their own. Every person walking down the street went from an anonymous passerby to a potential attacker. I didn’t feel safe. Not even the warm shelter of a hooded jacket and thick sunglasses were enough to protect my identity, they simply became my identity, the thing people would look out for.
So now every day I sit by the door, trying to fight these demons that have made their way into my thoughts. It’s just small walk down the street. I can do this. I can do this.