In the past ten days, my blog has seen more traffic than it did in its first and most publicized week. Some of you Facebookers have even sent me e-love letters, and the mother of a friend has become both a dedicated reader and Joyful Things one-woman-publicist. For three days in a row, my views have broken 40! I haven’t felt this popular since my husband asked me out on our first real date.
Which brings to mind the whole concept of popularity. Popularity is tricky. It can be insidious, wonderful and distracting; empowering and crippling; fondly or bitterly remembered. It is, worst of all and no matter what, longed for (at one time or another) and painfully fleeting.
Popularity is not guaranteed, and no one seems to have a formula for it – to become a popular writer, one needs to catch the wave of a trend (and only sometimes write well); to be a popular teenager, one needs either to buck a system or buy into it – no one’s ever sure which method will work at any given moment. Popularity might be seen as shallow, but the road to greatness is unknown and unpredictable. How strange for a simple thing to be so heavily weighted.
If it had to declare citizenship, I’m sure popularity would be American. Why? Because we care. We are hurt that the United States has such a poor public image; we wonder, quietly, while reading The Economist, what might be done to increase our popularity: Leave Iraq? Save the planet? Elect Obama? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. But the world is more complex than popularity allows, and sometimes, as my mother always said, the most popular thing is not always the right thing.
But still – we covet it. I love my 40 viewers per day. I write this not even knowing if 40 viewers a day equals, in the greater blogosphere, popularity. But who cares? I am popular in my own right! My many viewers make me want to dance around the room with Claire to make her giggle, toss Ivy lots of dog treats (despite the diet she is supposed to be on), and smooch my handsome husband. We popular people, if good, always share the affection – even if our popularity is only in our own minds.
So, the next time you, whoever you are, flip from CNN.com or Facebook or The New York Times to Joyful Things, imagine me floating around my house with a giggling Claire in my arms and Ivy wagging along beside. How bizarre the life of a hopeful writer! We need so little to keep us in the keys.