The other night I was at an IABC/DC Metro happy hour.
Terrific event, though you might say I’m biased, seeing as how I’m president of the chapter for another 78 days, er, who’s counting?
It was great seeing Steve and Cindy Crescenzo again, our guests that night, as it was quite a few of my board members and a few newcomers.
Something funny happened that evening.
There were a couple of people who came up to me.
The conversation went something like this:
“You’re Shonali Burke?”
Me: “Er, yes.”
Me: “Er, no, really, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are, you’re famous!”
Me: “<self-deprecating laugh> Well, ok, maybe I’m a little ‘Internet-famous’… like many others.”
“You’re Internet-world famous!”
At this point I stopped.
Because, really, if someone is convinced I’m famous, world- or otherwise, who am I to disabuse them of the notion?
Five minutes later
Someone else looked at me and said, “Who are you again”?
The entire interchange(s) reminded me of one of the lines from Mel Brooks’ 1983 To Be or Not To Be, a remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 classic.
In particular, I always enjoyed the opening “act,” not just because it’s funny, but because I think the way Anne Bancroft shimmies her shoulders is just. Awesome.
Back to “world famous”
It’s when the female lead/theater diva (played by Anne Bancroft in the remake), remarks incredulously about her troupe-leading husband (Brooks in the remake):
“But he’s world famous in Poland!”
The humor is two-fold:
that Bancroft’s character cannot believe that anyone familiar with Polish theater would not know who her husband is… because he’s “world famous” in Poland.
that Bancroft’s character cannot believe that anyone in Poland would not know who her husband is… because he’s “world famous” … in Poland.
See what I’m getting at?
Regardless of how small a pond we think we’re big fish in, there are always bigger fish in smaller ponds, not to mention bigger fish in bigger ponds.
We’re “famous” in our immediate circles, and sometimes, even beyond our immediate circles.
But those ponds are almost always “Poland.”
A beautiful country, from what I’ve heard, and one that I hope to visit.
But one of many that constitute what we consider “the world.”
My point is this
No matter how famous we may think we are, or our circles lead us to believe, there is always – always – someone more famous.
I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to be more famous, unless it’s Seth Godin.
Because he’s already really, really famous.
So whatever shape our “fame” takes, it’s wise not to let ourselves get taken in by it.
Else what’s the difference between you, me and your run-of-the-mill social media guru?
Image: Norma Desmond via Flickr, CC 2.0
[…] Mark Drapeau aka @cheeky_geeky is the keynote speaker. I’m pretty sure he’s more than world famous in Poland, and with his tremendous reputation I, for one, am looking forward to hearing him […]
Who are you again??
Jill, you mean I’m not world-famous in Fosterland?!
Actually, my number one fan worldwide lives in Prague.
That’s priceless, Ike… or very cool. Or both.
You’re REALLY world famous!
Well, you are certainly famous in my book! I agree that fame is a relative term, as you pointed out. But seeing as how it’s easier to raise your profile and to connect with more people online than before, it’s likely to translate into some form of fame eventually.
That’s nice of you to say, Krista. :) Yes, it’s becoming easier and easier to raise your profile through online efforts these days, but I just think it’s important to do a reality check every now and again. Keeps me grounded… at least, I try to stay grounded!
You’re world famous in Newfoundland too, Shonali. Now if only anyone knew where Newfoundland was! But hey, we love it here, and that’s what counts.
This was an interesting read. Thanks for an insight that should help keep us a bit more humble, and a bit more global in our perspective. Have a great day!
You’re also famous in the best parts of Santa Barbara, a lovely village just west of Poland!
And I wanted to sign this anonymously because everyone should just KNOW me, due to my incredible fame! sigh….yes, hello Mom, I know it’s really just you….
That gave me a chuckle, Alexandra, thank you!
This post gave me a good laugh, Shonali. :)
Syntax and pragmatics linguists would love the “world famous in Poland” double entendre.
On a hardly related note, except that it’s about Poland (actually more like Europe in general), have you seen Yanko Tsvetkov’s maps of European stereotypes? http://alphadesigner.com/project-mapping-stereotypes.html
The Brits think Poland’s a pest while the Italians are thinking it’s a Papal State.
Great overall point about the relativity of fame; with over 6.7 billion people estimated to be in the world, it’s no surprise one individual’s network can’t be as far-reaching. I think it’s a good lesson to learn, and also teaches us to stay humble; we’re not as big as we think we are…unless you’re Seth Godin. Ha! :P
OMG, I love those maps, Herwin. Thanks for sharing!
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shonali Burke and Julie Walraven, Julie Walraven. Julie Walraven said: RT @shonali: New post: Are You World Famous In Poland? http://t.co/L2ewHkn (a bit of Friday fun, let me know what you think!). #pr #soci … […]