Small Town Fame Is All You Need

James Walpole/ August 19, 2020

“Every last one, route one, rural heart’s got a story to tell
Every grandma, in law, ex girlfriend
Maybe knows you just a little too well
Whether you’re late for church or you’re stuck in jail
Hey words gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town”

Miranda Lambert, “Famous In. Small Town”

You could argue that we all feel the need to be known. Fame leads to more opportunities, wider community, higher social status, even more, ahem, mating opportunities.

Living in the current age has accustomed us all to expect that we will get our 15 minutes of global fame – partly because it’s true. We are all more likely to be known for something we do (that gets online) or post online. In the pursuit of that fame, we’ll engage in constant image maintenance and constant attention-seeking.

All that for global (or national) fame that allows little time for privacy or self-reflection, and that throws up endless obstacles to humility. Is it worth it?

Why not channel that desire for fame into something both more healthy and more flexible and more achievable? I’m talking about small town fame.

Small town fame is being known around town. It means having a reputation with a decently wide set of people. It means having a definite (and high) place within a local status hierarchy, whether from being a solid community businessman or from pastoring the local church faithfully for 20 years. It doesn’t take all that much. And it doesn’t take all that much to live and die with good fame rather than infamy.

Small town fame isn’t oppressive (unless you have nosy neighbors). If someone knows who you are, at least you can sort of know who they are, too. And there are some rules in small towns about how to treat people – even well-known ones – that make things more bearable.

Small town fame gives you access to everything you need. Need a plumber? he probably knows you. Need a girlfriend? She’s heard from her friends about you).

Small town fame is more “adjustable”, too. If you are only famous in your own town, all it takes is a short drive to regain anonymity. And it takes a short drive back to return to local relations.

Global “internet” fame has its charms, but it’s hard to see how you couldn’t get the charms (without the curse) from being an active and interesting part of your home town.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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