Popularity: Good, Bad, or Indifferent?

The less "popular" you are, the less you have to deal with others trying to suck you into their dynamics. In order to be successful in business, a person does not need to be popular socially, and in fact, social popularity can slow a person's business success down, unless the person's "business" is politics or corrupt practices, then social popularity is intrinsic to their "success". But that kind of social popularity is fake anyway, politicians and corrupt business people (cons) need to create a facade that people "like" so that they can get voter support and/or hide what they're doing, respectively. (Not implying that all politicians are corrupt, some are and some aren't, but they all need voter support to keep their jobs, either way.)

As far as musicians, actors, and artists go, having "social popularity" is what it looks like when they have a following, but it's not actually what it is. Liking a person's music, artwork, or sports performance is not the same thing as liking the PERSON, although many confuse the two. "Popularity" is essential to the career of an artist or musician because of how humans follow one another. When a band gets played on the radio, or promoted with posters in a store, or featured on a national talk show, the impression that others get is that lots of people ALREADY LIKE them, lots of people ALREADY KNOW about them. So then it's not only "okay" to like them too, but it's also en vogue. The current trend. I get to be one of the cool kids if I like that band too.

There are many people who don't pay attention to music at all (or go to a movie, or go to an art show, or follow sports) unless they see others doing it, listening to it, and liking it, so that zeitgeist of "popularity" is essential to getting people to want to pay for your song, your movie, your art show, or see you play live.
"If others don't seem to like you, then why should I take you seriously, plus I don't want to be the only one who likes you and risk getting seen as "weird". I want to be part of the "in crowd"
(which includes the "in crowd" who calls themselves freaks and outcasts. If they have a "crowd" at all, they're not outcasts, they just have their own clique that the other clique doesn't accept, and so on. Notice that they reject people who don't fit in with them just as quickly.).

Many popular musicians and artists, actors and writers, and sports stars as well, even politicians and CEO's avoid much genuine social contact with their "fans" (or employees), because of one very poignant reason: MANY humans will stop being a "fan" when they make a personal connection with the star they follow, because the "star" suddenly becomes "JUST" a regular human being to them, and that's not what they want; they want to follow a "higher" kind of person, not just some old dumb every day "Joe" or "Jane". (The awareness that there's no such thing as a "higher human" is often absent.)
Meet and Greets are not real social connections, they're Meet and Greets; the person is on their best behavior, and they almost always have a manager or friend nearby to help them out. When we "meet" someone at a a "Meet and Greet", we're not "getting to know them" as a person, and they aren't "getting to know" us. To expect or demand them to remember us, or like us, is unrealistic and dramatic on our part.

Having a clique following for an artist or musician is important for career survival in a dysfunctional environment; the more dysfunctional, the more important the clique thing is, because so many people are trying to find somewhere they fit in, where they can have the power to reject those who don't. And they will often use following musicians or artists for that purpose.
"WE" all get it, "WE" are of like minds, "THEY" don't get it, "THEY" aren't like "US".
(Works until someone says or does something that bruises someone's ego, then a new sub-clique gets formed; "WE" REALLY get it, "THEY" are poseurs. or "WE" are in touch with reality, "THEY" are in la-la land.)   ~ The ironic thing about fandom is that a very

If we actually have a large number of "friends", they had better be very healthy emotionally and mentally, because if they're not, then we are subjecting ourselves to direct connection with unhealthy behaviors and motives, which usually include some form of manipulation. (Human beings tend to go right to manipulation, domination, and/or hostility when we're emotionally or mentally compromised, not unlike other animals.)

The fewer actual "friends" we have who we're closely tied to, the less risk we are putting ourselves in. Humans tend to reject those who don't fit in with their own emotional wants and needs, who don't "rub them the right way", so the more people we are tied closely to, the more we might find ourselves trying to fit in with their social expectations and points of view, in order to avoid rejection. We can become internally focused, without being aware of it, on making sure we fit in with our social group, whether it's family or platonic, in order to avoid rejection. THEREFORE, we will do and NOT DO certain things that we would have done otherwise to build our career, or to follow our interests.

It is very common for people to sacrifice, hide, and bury large parts of themselves that are quite healthy and positive in order to fit in with one's social group or family, in order to avoid rejection or other consequences.

So the fewer people we are intimately connected with, the less we put ourselves at risk for falling prey to our own human tendencies. We don't have to shut out the world, not at all; we just need to be aware of who we are connecting closely with, and aware of their  emotions, reactions, and behaviors, and doubly aware of our own. Are we doing what we want and need to do to, or are we doing more things that are really about making sure others like us and accept us in our social group?

"Real" friends (or family or partners) who are emotionally and mentally healthy would WANT us to meet our personal goals in life and career, whether it's getting a minimum wage job, attending community college, learning to play guitar, writing a book, going to Oxford, becoming a doctor, publishing a hit song, buying another car, or going sailing. They would be supportive of us, not trying to delay us, or trying to make us feel bad, shameful, or guilty, not trying to make us feel like we're doing something beyond our ability, or just to get attention. These kind of social connections are generally hard to come by. So, it is in our own best interest, and the best interest of our children, that we choose our close social connections carefully.