Navigating the “VIP” Section

First of all, a very happy In the Pleasure Groove release day to all of our US friends out there.  I think Amanda has been counting down to this day for months! (but now she’s really got a countdown going for a trip to Chicago…)

All this talk of signings and lineups to get into signings and so forth has me thinking about just how hard it is to navigate this fan community on a social level. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, stick with me because I think you’ll get my point in a minute or two.

When I first decided to get involved on a message board, I seemed to like everyone I “met”, and even better – I trusted whatever they said to be true. I guess I was pretty naive because it never occurred to me that people might lie, whether about their background, life circumstances, or how they came to know the band, or even if they’d met them. I think that’s pretty insightful about who I really am as a person – because I just expect people to tell me the truth. Why lie? I must remind myself that the truth just is not the same for everyone. Not everyone intentionally deceives.

The trouble is, of course, that in a community like this, everyone wants something. I really dislike talking about the band as though it’s a limited commodity. I don’t go around picturing them as orange futures or pork bellies, and yet many times, that is exactly how the community as a whole seems to react to their mere presence, as though they are pieces of meat and we are the lion pride. It has the potential to breed anger, greed and deception, and over the course of the years that I have been most involved, I’ve seen plenty.

If that greed weren’t enough, there is the sheer diversity of our group. I am pretty sure that there are fans from nearly every walk of life represented here. All races, creeds, careers, ages, and places on the planet. During my blogging, I’m fairly certain I’ve managed to offend someone out there, even without purposefully meaning to do so. It’s a very narrow ledge that must be navigated with care, and I truly do care. I’m also well aware that for every stance I take on a subject, there is with certainty, someone with the opposing view. This doesn’t just go for blogging – it is found in every segment of fandom (and life). Navigating between the lines, hoping not to offend, desperately trying not to stir up the pot-of-crazy that we all know exists, and hoping to somehow meet and befriend other people who have a similar interest in the fandom can be exhausting! I’ve yet to find the “secret recipe” that makes it all work, but I start by just trying to be honest and friendly with everyone. That doesn’t mean that I am friends with everyone, that everyone likes me in-turn, or that I even trust everyone – but I try to give the benefit of the doubt, at least until I’ve been wronged without a doubt.

In the research I’m continuing to do on fandom – much is made of this concept that fandom is an escape from normal “reality”. Due to the fact it is an escape, it is attractive to many, and part of that attraction is that at least from the outside looking in, it is paradise. An oasis in a desert.  I might argue that many times, it is really only a mirage. Many, if not all of us from time to time, pretend to be something they simply are not. The troubles of the world wash away with the time we spend on Twitter, Facebook or in the company of one another and we escape with relish. Let’s face it, when we’re away from home or online – we can be anything we want to be. It only becomes a problem when you spend enough time with one another where the layers get scratched and worn away enough so that reality bares through.  Everyone seems perfectly normal until you get to know them well, don’t they??

Now, I know that during my tenure as a Duran fan, I’ve read countless stories offered by others about meeting someone in person only to find out that one has been completely duped – either by their real-life persona, or by the person lying about what and whom they knew, or at worst – by thievery. Let’s be honest, it is really difficult to know what and whom to trust, and yet for many of us, we really and truly do believe the best in people. For me personally, it is shocking to find that someone wanted to “use” me because they thought I could get them something or somewhere (Don’t I wish?), and I’ve got to admit, sometimes it makes me think twice about really getting involved in the community beyond going to a show or two, and I am pretty sure I’m not alone.

So many of us talk about the “crazies” amongst us. Sure, they’re out there and sometimes they are even within plain sight – we just don’t recognize the signs. I see a complaint on nearly a daily basis…always from different people…saying that someone is misrepresenting themselves online. People make judgments about who should or shouldn’t be followed by the band, their management, people who surround them, and so forth without having the foggiest idea of why. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve gotten to the point where the cynical side of me thinks that maybe everyone (including me) is guilty of that from time to time. I certainly don’t look the way I do in pictures at shows (Are you kidding me?!? I have about 2 and a half minutes to get ready in the morning before I’m “discovered” as being awake, which means I must be ready to serve my public, err…children. I’m lucky to have time to put on mascara and eyeliner and even that is a simple luxury.), and my kids tell me I’m not nearly as cool as I sound online. Well, humph, I didn’t even know I sounded cool online!!! My point is simply that none of us really know the full-story of one another unless we care enough to find out, and sometimes, even when we do, we might very well be disappointed in the end.

Between the drama, the deception, the honesty and sometimes even the truth, it is really no wonder that many fans choose to stick to themselves and not get involved. Sometimes yes, it’s easier. On the other hand, if I had done that from the very beginning, I wouldn’t have met Amanda and many of you that I count as true friends. You know exactly whom you are.

-R

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