Friday, November 26, 2010

Long Off-Topic Letter to Allie Brosh

Warning: This blog post is seriously long. And seriously off-topic. If you read it at your own risk, I'm sorry you were so bored that this seemed like a good idea. /pat

I took about a week to read all the way through the entire blog "Hyperbole and a Half" from beginning to end after I got hooked with this post, which might be the very most awesome blog entry ever in the history of anything (warning: it is a very long blog post, even longer than this one): Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving

If you went and read that and didn't cry laughing and then want to hug the author, you are an unfeeling cyborg and I pity your lack of ability to feel emotion.

And then I noticed that my speaking / writing style had shifted to be more Allie-like (Allie Brosh is the author). For example, the previous sentence about cyborgs sounded more like Allie than it sounds like Galiana. I've always been a horrible mimic. It was bound to happen. It'll fade and I'll go back to sounding like Galiana as long as I don't start over and read her whole blog again next week. Which I might.

But more importantly, I found myself musing about her blog: She got 100 followers in September 2009, after about 2 months. Now she has between 1 and 2 million unique visitors per month. That's a crazy fast ramp-up. And crazy fast success for someone who often couldn't afford heat last winter. FYI: Not being able to afford heat in Montana is bad.

I have a little theory about how fame is unnatural and psychically disturbing. And I have a hunch that Allie is being psychically disturbed by her new-found fame. Sure, the money is great, but being followed and adored (and vilified) by that many people has to be mind-bogglingly peculiar.

So I wrote her a letter, just in case my little theory makes her slightly happy, to try to repay her for the hours of happy she gave me with her blog.

Then I was happy with what I wrote, so I wanted to share it with someone, but my off-phone Facebook account includes too many teenagers and religiously conservative friends of my mom to share it there, because it says "Fuck" a lot, and I don't think Facebook should feel assaulting to the nice people who prayed for me when I was growing up.

So I'm sharing it with you. You know I say "fuck" a lot, and yet you choose to read me anyway.

And I won't lie: in the back of my mind, the possibility exists that Allie will think it's the best letter ever and link to my blog and then I'll become famous on the internet and end up being the Dan Savage of phone sex workers.

But since the odds of that happening are approximately the same as me wandering down the street and having a mega-millions-winning lottery ticket blow into my face and stick there, I'll just share it because I'm narcissistic and I want people to tell me that I did a nice thing, and it was well-written.

And I want to post it here because it makes me happy that I wrote it, and when I review old blog post titles, I like being reminded of things that make me happy, like magical barfing dogs.

So here it is:

I attempted to leave a huge comment, but it rejected it saying it was too long, on this blog post:

So instead I'm mailing you the comment. Here's what it said:

I spent about a week reading through your whole blog, and this entry has stuck with me, and I wanted to write you what I was thinking in case I'm having a hunch and it's right.

Here's my hunch: fame and high blog traffic are super-duper weird for you.

Here's my theory: human beings aren't created for celebrity.

Here's my guess: When you had 125 followers, it felt great, and you could totally keep up with everyone, and it felt like a cozy community. As that number grew, you started losing track and feeling guilt, but then when it hit about 450 people wanting to interact with you, it started getting very fuzzy. You had to make some new rules to protect yourself, like "it's okay if I don't answer everything".

Here's why I guess that: 125 is the number that most churches and social organizations cannot overcome no matter how hard they try. 450 is the number where companies tend to explode or implode. They are irrationally magic numbers.

Here's my pseudo-scientific reasoning, which I'm pretty sure I read somewhere when reading about church growth theory: ... irrationally magic numbers... unless you consider that our hunter-gatherer backgrounds make it difficult to sustain hunter-gatherer groups of more than about 125 - they tend to split about then, and once there are four groups of 100-125 each in an area, wars break out.

So as a human being, you're not really biologically equipped to keep track of more than 450 people ever. It's not your fault, you're just human. It feels weird to have a million visitors a day because **it is weird**. It's totally fucking bizarre. One person shouldn't be known by a million other people. It's totally fucked up. There's no way in the world one person's brain, no matter how awesome, can wrap itself around that freaky shit.

Here's my strong advice to you: don't try to wrap your mind around it. Just pretend like it's only 125 people. Like you're still starving, and your hunger is still driving you, but now sometimes things magically pop up like heat and the ability to eat at a restaurant, but those are magical, and certainly don't come from anything as fucked up as internet celebrity.

Here's why it's probably especially troubling: A year ago, the thought of going home for the holidays overwhelmed you one day, and you wrote about it, and your little cozy community helped you with it. But now you make long posts with lots of pictures, and cake and dogs and spiders and bricks, and lots of people see those posts. But those posts probably don't feel as personal as the one you wrote last December. And it's possible that in the back of your mind, you wonder if you had another day like that, if you wrote another post like that, would it all come tumbling down forever? Or could a million people be as cozy as 125?

Here's my guess: No, a million people could not be anywhere near as cozy as 125. But fuck 'em. All of 'em. All of us. Fuck us all to hell. Your blog got popular because you did what you felt like doing, and some of those things ended up being popular.

Here's my observation: Reading through your blog, there was a spot in early 2010 where Boyfriend said, in exasperation, "draw it - it'll make you feel better" because he knew you, and you did, and sure enough, that drew people to you.

So let's repeat that. Slowly. For dramatic effect.

You did the thing that made you feel better, and it drew people to you.

Keep doing that, Allie. That's all you have to do. Everything else is stupid bullshit and deserves to be "It" in Brick Tag.

*internet hug*



  1. I found you from Reddit and I'm adoring reading your blog and I <3 Allie, too!!
    Did she ever respond?
    Great good luck with your business!!

  2. Hi! Thanks for dropping by! No, she never responded. I didn't expect her to :)

  3. Well, thank YOU for responding! :D I hope you get a million billion look-sees, too!

  4. A million-billion?!? Wow!! :D

    Today's volume is considerably up, I'm very pleased.