I do not, for the record, believe in celebrity. Maybe because I grew up in NYC surrounded by famous people, it’s a pretty meaningless concept to me. I can tell you that Tom Cruise rents movies like everyone else, that Isabella Rosellini eats at restaurants like everyone else, and that Cher goes to the grocery store like everyone else, too.
As a result, I am probably hard to impress. The people I admire, I admire because of what they have to say or what they’ve done, not because of who they are. I mean, even the most amazing people are just people – mostly people who wish you’d buy them a beer.
After all, everyone poops.
But if the internet excels at anything, it’s making celebrity out of molehills. It is very, very easy to get sucked into your own PR, and to start believing everything you read about yourself. I’ve watched, and continue to watch, many people trip over their own internet egos in spectacular fashion and it is, frankly, embarrassing.
A little over a year ago, when I noticed my online profile escalating rather sharply, I made some fairly rash decisions about how to manage my internet ego. This is what I decided to do:
- Stop Reading Web Stats: While it’s nice that when I write a blog post, a big bunch of people turn up to read it, that’s just weird for me. I started blogging when there were like 300 blogs online, total. I blogged before there was blogging software; I hacked a guest book script to do it. I still write for an audience of 50, and that’s how many lovely people I like to pretend are reading.
- Turn Off Twitter Notifications: Lots of interesting people turn up in my @replies or are re-tweeted by the small, trusted circle I already follow, and I find them organically. I don’t need the ego pat of knowing when someone new finds my Twitter account.
- Turn Off Google Alerts: Likewise, I don’t need to know every time someone mentions my name. Often what’s said is wrong, offensive, or just so weird it’s more harmful than helpful. When I want fucking moronic, I read 4chan.
- Say No to Blog Interviews: Like newspapers and magazines, one has no control over what comes out on the other side, but I’m sad to say that in my experience bloggers are more problematic. Often the result enrages me. Very rarely does it make me happy.
I feel compelled to point out that the Smashing thing angered me not because of anything Lee Munroe did, but because of editorial choices on the part of Smashing. Not a single site of mine (and Lee sent in several) made it to the showcase part of an article called Showcase of Web Design in Ireland. Either I’m good enough to make the cut, including the showcase, or I’m not. Keeping my words but cutting my work smacks of tokenism, and I’m done with that.
Granted, I am sensitive to this issue because the context in which I am most likely to be mentioned is as a “Top Female Web Designer.” The web is awash with female web designers; I do not understand the compulsion to gather us together and stick us in a special little ghetto. I don’t want to be praised for my gender; I want to be respected for my work on its own merits.
Having said that, I’m perfectly cognisant of my abilities. I punch solidly in my weight class, but I am not a top-tier web designer. I create very nice, very usable sites for great people at nifty companies at an accessible price, and that is good enough for me.
No matter what Google Alerts may try to tell me.