I wrote a piece on the Youtuber, KSIOlajidebt – KSI for short – yesterday. I consider myself a fan of KSI. I subscribed to his channel about one year ago, and have since then very much enjoyed a number of videos the Englishman has uploaded. For about a six-month period, I would check my Youtube ‘subscriptions’ inbox, eagerly anticipating a new vid from KSI ; his stuff was that compelling. But then, something happened, and I stopped watching as much. What did happen?
I began my own quest to become a star, that’ s what.
And the road from fan to star requires , first and foremost, a change in thought process. Stars think differently than fans do. Stars therefore act differently than fans do.
Stars look inward, while fans look outward. Stars produce, fans consume. Stars – and aspiring stars – are always thinking ahead, trying to come up with ways to gain entree into the minds of others, and stay relevant once allowed inside. This is why it is said that there is no downtime in the attention economy; there is always a new opportunity for a star to bring attention to him/herself.
This means that a star / aspiring star, must narrow their focus, and filter out all but the most necessary (self – reflecting) stimuli he or she is exposed to, so as not to waste time on things that will do them no good attentionally. The first step towards stardom begins with sharpening one’s focus, learning to tune out the majority of noise that competes at an increasing rate for one’s attention.
This is because a star must provide a unique service in order to have any chance of aligning minds to him. Think of the numerous reporters employed on a major newspaper’s staff, versus the number of op-ed columnists who contribute regularly. The opinion columnists are stars; they have a presence, a voice, an angle that they write from, known all-too-well by the fans who read their work regularly. As for the other journalists? They get largely ignored, hoping that the subject of their stories will hopefully be ‘interesting’ (different) enough to make readers remember who actually wrote it. Let’s take a look at the front page of the nypost.com today, and see what this phenomenon looks like:
The front page is news, news, news – written by who-knows-and-who-cares – as one scrolls and scrolls, all sorts of events locally, nationally, and globally competing for the attention of visitors. About halfway down the page, we spot a named columnist, Cindy Adams. Adams is a star columnist, one of a few writers for the NY Post whose articles – whatever their subject – take the back seat to the woman herfself, and whatever it is that she and her words represents to her fans.
Further down, the reader comes across a few other notable names, star columnists in assorted genres of news. The articles of Joel Sherman and Paul Schwartz in ‘Sports, and Phil Mushnick in ‘TV Sports’, provide a similar service in these niche attention waves that Cindy Adams’ posts do for the ‘Page Six’ gossip section of the NY Post: they provide a unique, personalized take on what are otherwise broad topics. Whatever these star columnists write takes on an added importance simply because the stars have said so.
ESPN is well aware of this, as one can plainly see on the homepage of their ‘soccer’ section of espn.com:
In the midst of the many thumbnail images for each of the many articles on the page, there are three instances where a columnist’s name is featured foremost in the article’s summary, one of the names being repeated in two articles. One of the article summaries starts out with ‘…Michael Cox says…..’ and I find that the perfect example of what it means to become a star, whether in journalism, or another avenue. It means this: The importance of what is said depends upon who is saying it.