Let’s face it, you’ve probably been working way too hard.
Forget about all of those years toiling away in obscurity
Forget about putting in your 10,000 hours of practice to master your craft.
In fact, forget about creating any creative work at all, now it’s all about becoming famous for the sake of being famous.
Somewhere along the way, fame has become a goal in itself. It’s not necessarily to become a famous musician, a famous writer, or a famous artist — it’s simply enough to become famous.
Creative artists have always been provocateurs. Artists such as Picasso, Duchamp, O’Keeffe, Cerny, Pollock, Banksy, Christo, and Hirst specialized in works that stir the emotions and push the boundaries (and buttons) of their viewing audience. Their primary purpose, however, was never simply to get attention, it was an attempt to alter our perspective and offer us something new using their own unique creative voice.
Now having said that, why does it feel like so many of us these days are just screaming to get attention?
Look I get it, the internet is getting awfully crowded.
Now that virtually everyone has their own Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and blog — it has become harder than ever to breakthrough the background chatter and get ourselves noticed. We’ve got more news outlets and low-cost ways to spread our creative work around than ever before.
What seems to be disappearing, however, is our attention.
So what happened?
You have to remember that not that long ago there were only a handful of television channels, movie studios, and music recording companies out there. They produced the content and we dutifully watched, listened, and purchased whatever it was they created.
It didn’t even have to be all that good because we only had a few choices available to choose from (unless of course, you were one of those weird “book readers”). They had the professional actors and musicians, and we were the spectators. They performed while we sat on the sidelines clapping and purchasing our tickets.
Back then we even watched the commercials on TV because we were simply too lazy to get up and change the channel. It was the glory days of Mad Men and everyone played their part — They talked and we listened.
But here’s the problem….things changed
The world wide web has changed all of that. There are no more spectators sitting on the sidelines waiting to be entertained because we all to some degree have become content creators ourselves.
We are now so busy creating and sharing our own content that we don’t have the time to notice anyone else’s stuff.
We update our blog, we blast out dozens of Facebook and Twitter updates daily only to discover that fewer and fewer people are listening to what we have to say. So we end up spending the majority of our time talking about (and to) ourselves.
It’s kind of like Thanksgiving dinner, where everyone is talking at the same time but no one is really listening. We are simply talking over one another. The conversation around the table keeps getting louder and louder until you can’t even hear what you are saying yourself.
In economics, this is called the law of diminishing returns. In other words, the first person to start shouting in a quiet room is almost guaranteed to get noticed. Maybe even the second of the third person as well–but as soon as everyone in the room starts shouting, nobody can hear anyone and we just tune it out. Unfortunately, it seems that we have now reached that point online where everyone is shouting to get themselves noticed but nobody is bothering to listen anymore.
So in this type of environment where there is already so much noise and commotion, how can anyone ever hope to stand out and get themselves noticed?
Well this all comes back to the title of this post which is “How to Become Famous in 3 Shockingly Easy Steps”
(you weren’t sure we’d actually get back there did you?)
So here it is…. the secret to getting yourself noticed online is to shock your audience into paying attention to you.
Let’s face it, the fastest way to get attention is to scream
As you can see, our formula here is fairly simple. If you want to become famous, you’ve simply have to find a way to get people’s attention. Once you get people’s attention, you become famous.
You see fame (unlike talent) is nothing more than capturing someone’s attention.
Shocking people by doing something stupid and outlandish used to be the province of disc jockeys, graffiti artists, and Jerry Springer but now it has apparently become mainstream.
So not only is Picasso famous for his artwork but now so is the idiot who walked into a museum and vandalized one of his paintings. It doesn’t take talent, hard work, or skill to become famous. All it really takes is the ability to capture someone else’s attention by doing something completely unexpected. It doesn’t even matter whether you do something “good” or something “bad” to get attention — the result is exactly the same.
Fame you’ll be famous, as famous as can be, with everyone watching you win on TV, Except when they don’t because sometimes they won’t. ~Dr. Seuss
And it’s not just beginners who are struggling to get noticed, it’s also those who may already be famous but want to become even more famous. Do you think that it’s merely coincidence that so many washed up celebrities publicly announce the fact they are checking into rehab or “accidentally” leak a sex tape. Even these B-list celebrities understand that fame demands attention, and if they are no longer getting enough attention, they need to do something that will.
As a culture we used to try and hide these little indiscretions, now we go out of our way to record and publicize them.
This tried and true formula has revived the
careers fame of countless actors and musicians who have then gone on to a lucrative second career in reality television. After all, everyone loves to tune into Bravo and watch a good celebrity train wreck because it makes us feel morally superior to these idiots and their self-serving shenanigans.
Okay, that’s great, but what if you’re not already a washed up celebrity? What are your options?
Well lucky for you, there have been plenty of other people who have used controversy to worm their way into our collective consciousness. In the process, they’ve left us a detailed blueprint on how to become famous for being infamous.
So without further adieu, I bring you…
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box here. This can be in the form of a video, stunt, hoax, or just good old-fashioned vandalism. Keep in mind that as a culture we have become somewhat desensitized to people doing stupid things from years of watching people do stupid things, so try to think big.
Remember that recording and documenting your act of idiocy is not optional here. These days if you don’t capture something on video, you might as well go back to live in your primitive cave of obscurity.
It’s the whole tree falling in the forest kind of thing. This isn’t 2005 and nobody wants to sit down and read about it in some old-fashioned newspaper, they want to actually see it happen so they can shake their head in disbelief as they are clicking on the share buttons.
Although it’s true that you might get fined or arrested for your stunt, don’t worry about it because you will also get your name in the papers, the blogs, cable news channels, and other ridiculous websites (like this one) that have nothing better to do than to give you more free publicity.
Just make sure that they spell your name correctly.
Congratulations you are now famous! Please keep in mind, however, that although your fame may be immediate, it is far from permanent. So while you are soaking in your 15 minutes of fame, be sure to be thinking about your next public spectacle of stupidity. Because as much as we enjoy watching your personal train-wreck on YouTube, there is always another idiot just around the corner waiting to shock and amuse us.
Don’t get the wrong idea here. There is nothing wrong with being famous. Just as there is no inherent goodness from spending your life toiling in obscurity.
Being famous doesn’t make you any better of a creative artist. In fact, those who achieve a certain amount of fame often feel trapped by it (I know boo-boo right?). As soon as someone achieves some degree of fame and success, however, the temptation is always there for them to stick with that same tried-and-true formula, instead of risking potential failure by trying something new. They find themselves suddenly trapped in a creative rut because of the expectations of their audience.
I never wanted to be famous. I only wanted to be great. ~Ray Charles
Fame is (or at least should be) the public recognition that you have achieved some degree of mastery in your chosen profession. What fame shouldn’t be, however, is a goal in itself.
So maybe we should stop wasting all of this energy trying to get ourselves noticed and perhaps spend some of that time working on becoming a better creative artist.
Despite what you may have heard, there are no shortcuts.
There is no “easy” button.
You just have to sit down and do the work.
Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.