As a student I met famous atheists who struck me as pompous. I would watch some of them give talks and then disappear. These things disgusted me. They were a real reason behind the structure of Skepticon which did not have a green room so it forced the speakers to mingle and share time with the people who make them celebrities. (Oddly, some of the most famous atheists I’ve met, like PZ, Ed, and Greta, are also the most amazingly humble)
As I have become more popular, I am realizing that the prospect of niche fame is a weird beast. It’s something I both want and don’t want. I want the utility. I want to be able to have my voice heard. I want to be able to organize people. In short, I want to be able to change the world.
On the other hand, I don’t ever want to feel like I’m above anybody else for being well-known (I’m fine with feeling better than some others for other less superficial reasons). I don’t want the temptation to be pompous or any of the other qualities I grew to hate in other “celebrity” atheists. Despite those close to me telling me I should own it, I’ve endeavored to never think of myself as even slightly “famous” (it sounds dirty even saying that word). In short, I want to feel like just another young person in the crowd who is lucky enough to get on stage every now and again. So far I’ve managed it.
However, this weekend I was confronted with how things have changed. My boss had to boot me away from the SSA table at the Reason Rally because so many people were coming by who wanted to meet me. I went out into the crowd and was stopped constantly for pictures.
I just…had no idea that so many people read this thing. So many of them told me that I had impacted their lives in some serious way.
I’m flattered. Indescribably flattered. Not just by the attention, but that so many people confirmed for me that I had made a difference. I really don’t care about the popularity (though it does make me blush with gratitude), but I very much care about making a better world. Thank you all so much for that. It means the world to me.
I go to conferences to see you guys. *hug*