Sammy Rhodes is back from his hiatus on Twitter and shares some of what he learned from his rise and fall.
Here is an excerpt:
In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d have as many followers on Twitter as I did. 130,427 to be exact. But who’s counting? I was. It was my self-worth stock market, and I followed it hard. Counting your followers on Twitter is like counting your money in Monopoly: you know it’s not ultimately worth anything, yet in that moment it feels like everything. Your card may have just been declined at Chipotle, but guess who owns Boardwalk and runs that town like Rihanna and Jay-Z?
Becoming internet famous did buy some cool things. Brunch with Flynn Rider in LA. Texting with the Bachelor. Disney’s Jessie sending a birthday message to my girls. Dwight from The Office giving me a shout out. These are moments I will work into as many conversations as possible for years to come. “This rain is really coming down. Speaking of rain, did I ever tell you about that time Rainn Wilson defended me on Twitter?”
But it also cost me some things too. Namely my integrity and identity. Sometimes people ask, “How did you do it?” and I typically shrug my shoulders, give some important tipping points and say, “I honestly don’t know it just sort of happened.” What I should say is that all you have to do to get a lot of followers on Twitter is figure out who’s cool and desperately align yourself with them. Because it’s about perception, not reality. It’s the “he’s with us” of the internet.
Jonathan Franzen warns about this danger in his recent essay“What’s Wrong with the Modern World.” He writes, “One of the worst things about the internet is that it tempts everyone to be a sophisticate – to take positions on what is hip and to consider, under pain of being considered unhip, the positions that everyone else is taking.” Integrity is about being the same person, with the same convictions, in any and every situation, with any and every crowd. But it’s hard to have convictions when you’re constantly wondering if they’re cool.
The other danger is looking to the internet for your identity, instead of the other way around. That’s why Jaron Lanier likes to say, “You have to be somebody before you can share yourself.” The internet cannot hold the weight of your identity; only reality can. Twitter became a place for me to be someone else, someone I struggled to be in real life. It’s what I call pulling a sad Batman. You change into your alter-ego at night, but instead of fighting crime you’re fighting for retweets. Also you don’t wake up in a mansion with an amazing car and a butler.
A wise person I know once said, “Fame is a great consequence but a terrible goal.” The problem of fame, even the internet kind, is that you sacrifice knowing yourself for being known. In turn you sacrifice friends for fans. And the reality is all the love in the world means almost nothing when it comes from people who know who you are but don’t really know you.
You can read the whole thing here. And while you’re at it, don’t miss his insightful post on 6 Ways to Love a Depressed Person.