It's those that crave popularity over quality; it's also those that crave positive feedback over honest, valuable critique; it's those that crave attention from any audience as opposed to trying to discern the difference between fawning, uneducated responses and the people with the education, or enthusiasm, or intelligence, to actually appreciate the quality of what they are seeing/reading/experiencing.
You've put it much better than I did, and it is what I had in mind but failed to put on... khm, paper, just like the following:
I think everyone should experience apathy and negative reactions.
Perhaps not apathy, but I believe that everyone must suffer a little in their lives: otherwise, they - we - become spoiled as we come to think that the world owes us something. I don't mean work stress, either: I mean things that are very important to us taken from us: heartbreak, loss of a friend, loss of a job due to lack of skills (rather than due to any external, uncontrollable conditions), failure to achieve perfection of work...
Afterwards, we must remain alone for some time - not to separate us from others, but to let us think without their pressure, without their desires that they might project onto you, without their unfulfilled passions that they hope for you to achieve instead. It is then that we grow, personally and professionally. We aren't perfect, and the sooner we realize that, the better.
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It seems to me that you're afraid of the position you speak of - the spoiled popularity state. If that's the case, then you should know that it's not an automatic process: you willingly put yourself into such position, or you don't. Nothing happens to us automatically: we change if we want to change, even if we don't know it; it is people who're open to growth that grow quicker. Assuming otherwise is letting the world around you rule you, push you around and bend you to their will - and we've just discussed how repulsive this state is for personal happiness and any realistic approach to the situation. People may not like you in the beginning, but it's what you do about it that matters.
I'd rather believe I am read by fewer people than more that don't really exist.
Even though I support the shier choice, in this case, you're lying to yourself still. It doesn't make you more humble - only less assuming, which may or may not be healthy for each situation. Operate with numbers if available; if not, don't assume any - write as you would in any case. If you'd rather finish writing if nobody's reading, then you aren't writing for yourself - in which case, you might as well not write at all: you aren't changing the world, you're gathering praise.