Success As Measured By Social Media

Kim Kardashian nude selfie

While I am grateful for the boost in exposure and the public following I have built as a result of social media, I believe that for many people, social media channels are arbitrary and false measures of success. I will never believe that someone who builds a huge following on Instagram with a gallery of scantily clad selfies has anything to offer the world except spank-bank material. I also want no part of popularity contests which simply look at the number of followers in determining the value of an athlete, and I am bothered by the idea that my knowledge carries less power than the number of bikini images I have shot over the years. I see that several fitness personalities have built their names almost exclusively on sexy selfies, and truly wonder where they will be after people get tired of just seeing hot pics and no intellectual substance to fall back upon. I honestly think that unless they begin working on their intellectual legacy, no one will remember or care about them in ten years.

Another thing which social media platforms do is that they provide a lottery chance for just about anyone to get his or her 15 minutes of fame. It can be hard to predict what might pass the tipping point and go viral, but when it does, an overnight sensation is often created. The usual prerequisite of talent has been washed away by a jaded, overstimulated society which simply wants to see something different, weird, trashy or disturbing. At the risk of completely offending a certain prominent family, I will boldly state that I think it is entirely unfair that the Kardashian family has basked in the fruits of notoriety and increased wealth simply because they were willing to showcase their affluent, dysfunctional, entitled family dynamics for the world to see. As a strange bonus, the world has been subjected to a full-figured, sexually liberated, narcissistic big sister who derives great joy from slathering her ovoid form with Crisco and posting selfies that scream “It’s all about me”, and certainly not in a way which inspires others. What is so mind-blowing is that this family is globally famous, despite the fact that they fall into the “talentless hack” category.

Even as I write this post, I hope to get a lot of views and likes, and wouldn’t mind if it went viral. However, because this post reveals coherent thoughts rather than what kind of underwear I have on right now, I know that it has less of a chance of sparking interest and reactions in a society which is still very visual and dumbed down by the sexual overtones which drive advertising.

Spelling Champ

Far Side SpellingI have been a excellent speller since early childhood, when I exhibited an intuitive sense of word structure. I still remember shocking my teachers during my very brief time in kindergarten (I was advanced to first grade at the age of five after a few weeks in kindergarten) by spelling the word SCISSORS correctly. Apparently my ability to spell this word was rare for my age, and from that point on, I earned the label of great speller. In the fourth grade, at the age of eight, I decided to learn the longest word in the Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, and I remember it to this day. It is a 45 letter word which is synonymous with a coal miner’s lung disease. Here is the word I memorized:

PNEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANOCONIOSIS

I was honestly fascinated with words and loved spelling them and investigating sentence structure as well. This continued throughout grade school, and by sixth grade, I was the kid to beat in the spelling contests my homeroom teacher Mrs. Mackenzie would conduct. The fact that I was unbeatable sparked a great deal of competitive energy in my classmates who wanted nothing more than to make me topple from my spelling perch. At the end of the school year, Mrs. Mackenzie hosted the grand finale spelling bee, which, instead of featuring candy as the grand prize, boasted a gold toned medal hanging from a red ribbon. The instant I saw the medal, a fire was lit inside me and I was determined to take the big title. On the big day, one student after another was defeated by words that proved too challenging for them to spell properly, and I stood there unfazed while they dropped out of the competition. Finally, it wound down to two of us: Martha Phelps and I stood across from each other, glaring daggers at each other. I could feel her anger seething from her, and could tell that she was out to destroy me. She was given a word, puffed out her chest, and began to spell it. F, A, C, E, I, OUS!

WRONG.

I almost jumped out of my skin, I was so excited. Mrs. Mackenzie turned to me. The word was mine to spell. F, A, C, E, T, I, O, U, S. Yes, I emphasized that T, rubbing it in like a smoker would rub out a cigarette on the sidewalk. It was like slow motion after that, when Mrs. Mackenzie turned to the table behind her, grabbed the medal, and handed it to me. A roar erupted as the students who had been standing around watching cheered for me.
gold-medal
Martha was not nearly as pleased as the others were for my victory, and made her displeasure known by punching me in the gut after we had walked from the auditorium back to the classrooms. What a sore loser and a snotty little bitch.

My classmates mentioned my talent when they scribbled in my yearbook at the end of the year. Two girls who were exceptionally poor spellers wrote “spelling medle” and “spelling metal”, which gave me a chuckle. It was a very memorable year for me and I took great pride in achieving an academic pinnacle so early in life. I think it would be fair say my hunger for competing began with spelling bees.

Skip ahead to high school, during which time I served as a living spell-check for my best friend Diane. Diane would call, and after I would say “Hello?”, I would hear a word being uttered, after which I was expected to spell it. Then I would hear, “Thanks” and the conversation would usually come to a quick end. Sometimes Diane would tell me that she had looked up the word, but her spelling was so off the mark that she couldn’t locate the word she was trying to spell. This free best friend service was something I was always happy to do, and because I made myself so readily available with my knack for spelling, this amusing little ritual continued throughout college and beyond.
spell-check-from-any-windows-application
To this day I am still asked by a number of good friends how to spell certain words, and I always oblige without any hesitation. It’s almost automatic for me, when a person asks me how to spell a word, to launch immediately into the spelling, as if I was in Mrs. Mackenzie’s class, standing at my desk, spelling until I was the only student standing. It’s how my brain is programmed and is better than an electronic spelling app!