In a world where popularity often dictates our choices and preferences, there exists a unique joy in being an early fan of something that’s not widely popular.
First waves of fans are always the best. Whenever they have the chance they will make sure to promote what they love, and they will do so without expecting anything in return. They are doing it because they want others to also enjoy it as much as they do.
Have you ever seen a video or read an article that’s about a topic you don’t care even remotely but can’t look away? Chances are that the person behind it is extremely passionate about this particular topic. There is a certain magic in watching someone explaining something that they deeply love or care about. The best example for me is Technology Connections.
Before finding the channel, I never imagined that I would watch a 18 minutes video about toasters, a 32 minutes video about dishwashers, or a 21 minutes video about the color brown. Each video has millions of views, and I believe it is not because of the topics or the content in them. I believe they are so enjoyable because he cares about it, without considering if it will be popular or not.
The more something gets loved and shared, the more it gets exposed, and along with exposure often comes hatred. At the beginning, everyone that’s interested in the unpopular thing enjoys it, and the ones who don’t, rarely even think about it. But when enough eyes pay attention to it, you’ll soon find people that question it. “How can so many people like this thing? I’ll help them see how wrong they are”.
When I started making games with the Godot Engine, not a lot of people was using it, the community was very welcoming, and there was a sense of excitement around it. This wasn’t by any chance a mainstream program to make games, this was something that a few open source geeks liked to play around with in their linux machines. After years of hard work and dedication, the engine got to a point where it was able to face the titans, and with a few miss steps from Unity (the most popular game engine out there), a lot of people gave Godot a try.
Of course, many people took this as a personal attack. Why are all these people having fun with the engine I don’t use? Instead of, giving it a go, they decided that bashing it was a better alternative. A lot of questionable takes started to float around and the us vs them mentality started to grow.
If you want to measure success in any public facing field, you can do so by measuring the hate it gets. For instance, going back to the YouTube example, you are never going to make it big if your videos don’t get a single dislike. As soon as you start seeing those dislikes, it means that the algorithm is starting to exposing you to more people outside of your usual viewers, and that’s what indicates that you have a hit in your hands.
As always, there’s risk with popularity. In a desperate attempt to control something in their lives, some people will make the extra effort to sabotage the thing that’s getting more attention than themselves. Everyone wants to be noticed, even if it is for hating or destroying something popular. Some will try and fail, but some will succeed.
If we hoard and hide what we love, we can still lose it. Only then, we’re alone in the loss. - John Green
I’ll keep sharing what I love with you, even if I cringe a bit when I do, or if I risk losing it.