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On Being Cool
2012
unknownj
Today I gave a masterclass in "How Not to Be Cool". In fact, I did so in exactly the way that I've always rather hoped I wouldn't - you know how you think "Yeah, if I met a celebrity, I'd be cool about it" - well apparently not.

"Celebrity" is a funny thing. On Twitter, at least within the area that I pay attention to, there are really two types of celebrity, created from the two types of attention - good and bad. The bad would be nutcases like Kenneth Tong, former Big Brother star and all-round danger to women. The good would be people who are famous for "being somebody" - Kanye, Rihanna, and all those people who are famous for reasons other than music who have suddenly vanished from my head.

But there's also a third category, which is for people who themselves aren't celebrities, but whose contribution is worth celebrating. People who I would call "thought leaders", largely because I've been brainwashed by corporate training courses on leadership. That's my favourite type of celebrity, because that contribution is actually worth something, quite unlike the views of a person whose claim to fame is that everybody knows them because they were in a reality TV show.

And it's this third sort of celebrity that I met today, in the form of Laurie "Voice of a Generation" Penny, who would not at all thank me for referring to her as such. She's not a "famous" person, but as a journalist, her writing is insightful, relevant, and generally worth celebrating - hence celebrity.

So, when she sat down next to me at Netroots UK earlier and said "Hi, I'm Laurie", the correct response would be "Hi, I'm James, pleased to meet you - I really enjoy your writing". The incorrect response, which is exactly what I gave, was "I know - you're one of my favourite Twitter celebrities!"

So uncool. I did try to go on to explain that this wasn't a case of putting her on the same spectrum as the Lady Gagas of this world, but by then the damage to my "cred" was done. All the same, it was really nice to talk to her, and she was entirely lovely in person. Also, the rate at which she and others there were running around Twitter on their iPads was very impressive - suddenly I'm wondering if I need a tablet (or, at the least, a mobile phone battery that will last longer than four hours).

In any case, I shall endeavour in future to be a little more cool. How hard can it be?

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Well at least you didn't squeal and wet your pants. Just saying.

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