Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The fame silo

I am (still) an avid user of FriendFeed, which reflects real life in one very important way. When you are on FriendFeed (or, for that matter, any similar service), you usually only see the activity related to your particular friend circle. All of the other stuff that passes through FriendFeed is (usually) not seen by you. As an example, FriendFeed has a huge Turkish user base. You wouldn't see that if you looked at my feed, however, since very few of my FriendFeed friends are Turkish speakers.

Of course, real life is the same way. My interests are probably very different from your interests. When I wrote about Simon A. Cole last October in this blog, I had to explain who he was. When I'm at work, I (usually) don't have to explain who Simon A. Cole is - people at work know very well who Cole is.

We often make assumptions that everyone knows particular things, but often those assumptions are faulty. My favorite story in this regard can be found here. Scroll down to the story that Deborah Anderson tells about her father, and a golfing partner that he encountered in the early 1960s in the San Fernando Valley here in southern California.

Another player walked up to my dad and asked if he could join him in a twosome because the course was a lot more busy than expected. My father couldn't help but notice that people were gawking and pointing at the guy he was playing golf with. My father couldn't stand it anymore, his curiosity got the best of him. He finally asked his golf buddy why everyone was watching and pointing at him. He replied, "Why, I'm Hugh Beaumont and I'm in television!"

Now perhaps the name Hugh Beaumont isn't well known today, but at the time Beaumont was one of the lead actors in a very popular TV show. So why wasn't Mr. Anderson familiar with Beaumont?

My dad's only experience with television was limited to only watching the "Huntley-Brinkley Report" and an occasional college football game so he was still mystified.

Beaumont, to his credit, was not insulted that Anderson didn't know who he was.

He asked what show it was and Hugh told my dad and he kindly explained what the show was all about and who the characters were.

After playing golf, Mr. Anderson went home and told his family who he just met - only he got the name of the TV show wrong.

My dad came home and excitedly told us that he played 18 holes of golf with the star of "Beaver the Cleaver".

(For those who don't recall, Beaumont played Beaver's dad, Ward Cleaver.)
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