What is fame?

You’d be amazed how many people accuse me of being famous. I always just laugh because, believe me… I’m not.

At all.

At least not by popular definition.

So what is fame, anyway? That’s one question I’ve really had to ponder over the past 16 months.

I go to a lot of public places and I can tell you this. A lot of people don’t know who I am. In fact, almost nobody knows who I am. About once a week, sometimes twice, somebody recognizes me and comes to say hi.

I’ve had only a handful of those people ask me for an autograph or a picture. And by a handful I mean four.

One time I was at the supermarket with Noah and further down our aisle, a woman was standing with her camera phone secretly trying to snap a picture of us. I guess that means I’ve been Paparazzied.

But… it was one time. With a cell phone.

Yeah, I’m definitely not famous.

At least not by popular definition.

I rather like it that way.

The thought of fame (in the way I typically think it) is about as appealing as being dangled by my feet above a pool of hungry Barracudas. Which is not at all.

But it does make me wonder… what is fame, anyway?

Out of curiosity, I decided to research how many “celebrities” there are in this world. Some of the more authoritative sources have put the number around 100,000. For book promotion reasons, I signed-up for a service called Contact Any Celebrity (which I paid for but never once found time to use). Before writing today’s post, I did a search to see if I was in there… nope. I’m not even part of their 60,000 “celebrities” that anybody would care enough to contact. So, more proof that I’m nowhere close to “famous.”

But seriously… One hundred thousand? I’d be willing to bet that most of us haven’t even heard of 99.2% of the people on that list. There are thousands of television shows with tens of thousands of actors and actresses. Thousands of bands, singers,  and musical groups. Internet celebs and local celebs. Movie stars. YouTube stars. Technology stars. Business stars. Celebrities within certain industries, celebrities within certain fields. Athletes. Politicians. Those who have been headlined in big news stories.

Celebrities span years, decades, and generations. Somebody famous today may not be famous tomorrow. Somebody famous ten years ago might be barely recognizable today. And let’s be honest, in the end, a lot of the people who think they’re celebrities probably aren’t really celebrities at all.

Anyway, I came up with my own simple formula once when sitting pondering fame. And it is this…

“Worldly fame is when you hope strangers don’t recognize you instead of hoping that they do.”

But to me, worldly fame isn’t real fame.

And in the end, I’ve come to one major conclusion about real fame. People are only famous to the people who know who they are. People are only famous to the people who see them and recognize their presence on this earth. People are only famous to particular groups of people and no matter how high up the “celebrity ladder” they climb… no matter if they’re Tom Hanks or Hillary Clinton or Kobe Bryant, they can walk down the street and to a lot of people, they’re just “another guy” or “another girl.”

So, with that thought in mind, what is real fame actually?

The answer is…

You.

You are famous.

To everybody you know, you’re famous. To everybody who sees you, you’re famous. To everybody who recognizes your presence on this earth, you’re famous. To particular groups of people… You’re famous to them.

Think about it. You can be walking with some of your closest friends, family members, whoever, and you could all walk by somebody that is “famous as famous can be.” And, nobody in your little group might have any idea who that person is. But everybody in your group knows who you are.

And that’s fame. That’s real fame.

Too many people think it’d be fantastic to be “famous.” But damn, I wish everybody could see that they already are and just how important that responsibility is.

We each have a fan base. We each have a group of people who look at us to be something for them. It could be our kids, our families, our friends, our neighbors. It could be our classmates, our workmates, or our peers.

And whether our fan base is five or five million, it takes work to keep it in place. It takes caring about those who recognize us and love us. It takes interacting with them, helping them, and giving back to them. It takes loving them in return.

Noah couldn’t tell you who Lady Gaga is. He has no clue who Will Smith or Donald Trump or Jillian Michaels is. But he could tell you who his Dad is, and I’m betting he’d tell you that his Dad is one of the most awesome people on earth.

And that’s a fan base worth holding onto.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. What are your thoughts on the reality of fame? What do you think about my definition of real fame? And what responsibilities does that carry?

And to whom are you famous? Who is a part of your fan base?