Ramble: Accidentally Popular

“Ok, so why do you think that?” I challenged. We’d paused Wife Swap. Well, actually, Mr Wolfie did, because he wanted to discuss how stupid Donald Trump can be.

For the record here, I don’t dig the guy, but nor do I despise him, either. Trump, like all presidents and politicians, has his good points and by jove, he certainly has his bad ones. As a political centrist, it’s kind of pretty hard to get me to side with one side of the coin or the other. I’m as much for free movement as I am for controlled borders and I am as much for unisex toilets as I, a sexual assault survivor, can understand why the idea would scare some women. I personally try and avoid political conversations for the simple reason that I can almost guarantee that someone will try and persuade me to agree just how bad the opposing politician is. They’re politicians, they lie, they exaggerate, that’s just what they do. No one politician is less guilty than the other.

If it really, really matters, then I have ever so slightly liberal leanings. Slightly, and that is the key word to take in here. It doesn’t mean that I agree fully with the political left, it just means that I am slightly more likely to agree with the political left than I am to agree with those of the political right. Slightly. Just remember that.

Mr Wolfie, however, is quite a bit further to the left that I.

Now, I should say here that I really don’t care where you are on the political spectrum and credit where it’s due, the Republican Fuddell wife in this episode of Wife Swap actually made a very good point to the politics-enthusiast Democratic husband of the Rodriguez family. In the episode, she explained that conversation between people should be about more than whether you choose to vote red or blue. I like a discussion about anything, but if we really, really have to talk about politics, then let’s go. One caveat though; you better have your own damn opinion before we do.

Nothing frustrates me more than people who recite what they read on Reddit or a meme they saw on Facebook. If you like a meme, it’s because you agree (even if only slightly) with what it’s saying. It doesn’t mean that it’s factually correct, memes are based on opinion, an opinion which is sometimes shared. Do not take Facebook as a news source. If you want to form an opinion on the news, read the news and study the topic. In fact, read a broad range of news and information sources with a left, right and centre bias. Then, and only then can you come up with your own opinion.

So, when Mr Wolfie came at me and told me that President Trump was bad and stupid, I wanted to get to the bottom of his way of thinking. What was it that Trump had done that had him so vexed as a British citizen?

Unfortunately, he had nothing to offer that was of his own opinion, only what he had seen on Reddit and Facebook. It’s sad when that happens, but with a handful of contextualised examples, I was at least able to help him see and understand why some people might be for Donald Trump as much as they might be against him. I was very clear throughout that I also wasn’t disagreeing with him, I just wanted to understand why he thought and felt the way he did about the 45th President of the United States, especially given that we don’t actually live in the USA.

So after Wife Swap, Mr Wolfie retired to bed and I took to Whisper. I’ve been floating around Whisper again for a few weeks. It can be a fun and a great place to ramble and vent, but that’s all that was.

At least, until it wasn’t.

If you’ve seem one of my Whispers, then I am A Random Writer. Hello, hi, it’s me.

Sometimes I vent, sometimes I brag, sometimes I’m just looking for a chat. In all things, it’s pretty much post and move on. I was feeling a little smug about encouraging some critical thinking so late at night, so I had my little moment of bragging and headed for bed. Simple.

About 1:15pm this afternoon, I got a notification on my phone:

Someone has hearted your whisper.

Oh, that’s cute. I’d resonated with somebody, somewhere. It’s always nice when that happens, isn’t it? It turns out, I’m not quite such a weirdo after all. It’d already been a bad day after an unexpected argument with my neighbour over the placement of a damn garden sign, so it was nice that at least somebody somewhere liked me.

But pretty soon, it happened again.

And again.

Last time I looked, it wasn’t just one person who had liked my post. 396 people had liked my post and it was now featuring on the popular page. Little old me was liked for something that I thought nothing of. Holy cow!

All of a sudden, my inbox exploded with people who wanted to get to know me. I really hate it when that happens because you’re left scrambling for answers, little forced tidbits of information to present about you in the vaguest hopes of appearing interesting enough to be worthy of an actual conversation. It wasn’t even the amount of messages that got to me, it was the trying to be interesting enough to talk to them. How do you find the right things to share, to be worthy of that conversation? I am, after all, just me.

Very recently, I got myself into some trouble with a man on Whisper. When I expressed that I don’t consider it important to give anyone my full life story, I was accused of having self esteem issues. I was perturbed by that as I am typically confident and sociable, I just don’t like talking about myself too much. Maybe, just maybe though, he might have been onto something?

On an online test, I scored 87 out of a possible 100. It’s not a perfect 100, but even my 87 was still good. The -13 I chalked up to being a humble and unassuming person. What if a full 100 kind of makes you a narcissist? That would be just as bad, surely. Wouldn’t it?

But you see dear readers, here is my story. A little relevant tidbit, just for you.

I grew up with a brother, a younger brother, a brother who had a small part on UK TV. Amongst family and friends, my brother was famous and I was constantly seconded. He acted, he sang and he told funny jokes. My brother could do anything, and me? I could do nothing. I knew it, I believed it, and so I stopped trying.

Growing up, I was never Helen. I was always “Malcolm’s sister”, very few people knew me by name. Nobody wanted to know me and even my friends preferred my younger brother to me. My brother was way cooler than I was and that’s just the way it was, so I accepted it.

I still remember now when my brother used to sit on the beach and play the didgeridoo. In fact, there is a photograph of me somewhere, with my arms folded, sat on the sea wall behind him. My mother managed to crop out my look of displeasure, but from my body language alone it was evident that I was done with my brother’s attention grabbing. I had no qualms about admitting that he was talented, but it didn’t need to happen all of the time, every day, everywhere we went. Couldn’t we go anywhere nice without one of his damn digeridoos?

To my knowledge, my brother still owns an array of unusual (and some more common) musical instruments. He is still he, and I am still me. He’s still more popular than I am, and I accept that. I also worry about him, because he’s also more depressed than me.

Which is perhaps also why I fear becoming too popular.

When I started blogging, I had no intention of becoming popular. I had no intentions of becoming famous and I had every intention of staying true to me. I don’t do selfies and I try to present my food photos in the best possible way. They’re still the things we’ve conjured up though, with no special effects or photo magic, nothing that I ever do is false or painted and all of my writings are authentically me. When I sit down to post, I give my audience me, exactly as I am, warts, faults and all.

So then when people want to know me, really want to know me, it’s still quite a shock to the system.

Why me? Why not some Instagram model or Twitter celebrity? Why not my little brother? Why me? Why do so many people suddenly want to know me? Who even am I?

I’m not exciting enough to be famous!

But this isn’t even the first time that I’ve been accidentally popular.

At the start of my secondary education, I was assigned a school taxi. My school was a twenty minute uphill walk from where I lived, and with my hypermobility, I would have been in a far worse state when I arrived at school than I had been in when I left.

Now, think taxi for a moment. What do you imagine a taxi to look like in the UK? A London black cab, perhaps? A six person people carrier maybe? Me too.

Certainly nothing like this:

You can just imagine how my popularity soared when I rocked up to school in a “limousine”. I was nothing of course, but that doesn’t mean to say that the other students believed it.

All of a sudden, fights were breaking out over who would carry my rucksack for me. Everywhere I went, I was bombarded with questions from peers who wanted to know what riding in a limousine was like. Did it have a swimming pool? A movie screen? Was I rich? Famous? Who even were my celebrity parents? Even my name was an unknown by those not in my year, I was simply known as “the limo girl”. I lied about the many features of the limo, I told them that my driver was armed and my General Assistant was my Personal Assistant. In reality, I was just a student like the rest of them and what you’re looking at was nothing more than a pomped up taxi. Dave, my driver, was only ever armed with a roll of Werther’s Original and Sue was the grandmother of a student at another local school. Kids though? Kids will believe anything you tell them.

Since then, the limousine went away and got swapped out for a Mercedes Voyager. I was sad when it went away because with it, so too did my short-lived popularity. I’ve grown up and matured since then though and though I don’t say that small white lies aren’t sometimes beneficial, I certainly don’t advocate bluffing your way to the top. Once you start spinning yarns, you have to keep it up and the more yarns you spin, the harder it gets to manage. Be nice, be kind and be genuine and maybe one day you too can become accidentally popular, exactly as you are.

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