The Virtues And Toxicities Of Popularity

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

~ Shakespeare in As You Like It.
No. my intention is not to ring my own bell.
Nor to pat myself on my own back. I have a message about the topic where I am the centre of the action and so, these two pictures.

Fellow Five on One blogger and web-friend Shackman posted this on his facebook page and as he had requested I copy pasted on my page.

“I think most of you know me pretty well, it doesn’t matter when our paths may have crossed. Maybe some of you like me and some don’t, but if you’re on my Facebook, it’s because I like you. I would love to see if we can still chat more than just likes and actually write something to each other. Again, I decided to participate in an experience called “Meeting between bread.” The idea is to see who reads the post without a photo. We are so quick to dive into technology that we forgot the most important thing: good friendship. If no one is reading this message, it will be a short social experiment. But if you finish this to the end, I would love you to comment in ONE WORD about us. For example: a place, an object, a person, a moment in which you remember me. Then copy this text and post it on your page (don’t share) and I’ll go to your page to leave a word that reminds me of you. Please don’t comment if you don’t have time to copy the text. This will destroy the experiment. Let’s see who spent their time to read and respond according to the common story outside of Facebook! Thank you for participating!”

I was overwhelmed with the responses that I received, bar a few, all from my colleagues from my working life. These wonderful people have been in touch with me all these years despite my having retired twenty years ago, thanks to the internet and the social media. It brought to my notice that I have  well-wishers in my life who still have regard for me; and I am reminded of that post and the comments on it as I write this post.

I don’t think that I was or am popular. Popular is for entertainers and sportspersons. Popularity is ephemeral. What I received was pure affection and regard from mates who had worked alongside me thanks to something that was drilled into me during my younger days by mentors who taught me a simple formula to be good in my career. CCDO. Connectedness, Constancy in the connectedness, Dignity in the relationships thus established and Opportunity for growth for both in the relationship.  This is something that I passed on to the people who crossed my path as well.  That it has worked has now been amply proved and I am grateful to those mentors who showed me the way. I repeat, I was not and am not popular. These long lasting relationships are testimony to that fact.

Since this has been my personal experience, I would say that the virtues of popularity are that they are superficial, short-lived and ego boosters. The toxicities of popularity are narcissism and self destruction. I am glad that I was and am not popular. I don’t know what to call what I am and leave it to my readers to decide on a nomenclature.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, PadmumShackman and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

17 thoughts on “The Virtues And Toxicities Of Popularity”

  1. this was a very apt and enjoyable post that got straight to the point! I quite enjoyed it, and something tells me it will be quite popular 😉

  2. While I agree that connection is a much more important thing than popularity, I would pose that there is such a thing as healthy, humble popularity and that much of the connection grows from that. Popularity doesn’t need to be bad unless it is sought for its own sake. And it need not be confused with any kind of glory.

  3. In my experience whether we are popular, or not, is defined by others, not us.

    You walk into a new school ground (mid year), a new office, a party with virtually no one you know, marry into a family, you find yourself, effortlessly, popular. I do believe that that is what Conrad in his post was hinting at too.

    Naturally, equally effortlessly, you may find yourself UNpopular in some circles. It happens. But it’s an external machination; one I believe we have little influence over unless, of course, we are a variation of Uriah Heep (ref. Charles Dickens, David Copperfield). You know the type -slimeball/eternal sycophant – trying to worm their ways into people’s affections. For personal gain. That’s deception. And pathetic. Never ends well.

    Going by what you describe in your own blog post, and my definition of “popular”, you clearly are popular. Whether you like it or not, Ramana. You don’t even need to sing for your supper.


    1. You are absolutely right. Others define whether you are popular or not and schools can be brutal. Political opinions usually cause unpopularity and cleave groups. I try and avoid such confrontations.

      And thank you for that vote of confidence.

  4. I’ve seen this meme circulate on FB, oh how it circulated. It seemed, and still does, quite narcissistic in tone and well, downright needy.

    I never did answer any of the 100 or so I was fed but was astonished at the amount of copy and pasting that went on.


  5. I’ve told patients to remember that others’ opinions of them is none of their business. It’s freeing to let go of the idea that you need to be popular. I like knowing their are people who like and/or love me, but I don’t need to be popular.

  6. Like you, I’ve never been popular in the sense that other people gravitate towards me and make me the centre of attention. Other people at school and at work have always been more popular than me, I’ve always been on the sidelines looking on, which is fine by me, I’ve never liked being the centre of attention anyway. But I think there’s also a difference between simple popularity, meaning other people conspicuously like you, and fame, which is popularity taken to absurd and unmanageable levels.

  7. Popularity equates in my mind to numbers of people who like someone or some thing. Whether or not such popularity is deserved can be highly subjective. I sometimes think of popularity in relation to celebrity which in and of itself can often influence how some people perceive another.

    1. Quite right. More than people, things like songs and passing fads also can be very popular but, by and large, they are ephemeral and passing.

  8. I tend to believe popularity isn’t a bad thing, but hopefully it’s earned. For instance, if you’re popular because you’re good looking but you’re a terrible person, that’s popularity that’s misplaced and superficial.

    I have to own up to being popular with people I used to work with because I was helpful to most of them, and I always worked to make them look good. I’m surprised that all these years later I have so many of them who still think good of me… pretty much like you.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted..The Bowling Tournament In Maine

    1. There are many ways in which both our lives are similar and your comparison is but one of them. I can vouch for the fact that you are popular and in all humility let me add that I admire that kind of popularity.

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