To begin with, Facebook, Twitter…all of it really, IS very simple. The UI (User Interface…and oh my god I’m starting to sound like my husband…*shivers uncontrollably*) is not difficult to follow, which is why all of us are here. (isn’t it?) Anything that requires a manual, perhaps a tutorial, or god forbid a video series to explain…is far too much. So, I think it’s safe to assume we’re all here because Facebook and Twitter (I’m sticking to those forms of media just because it’s what we all tend to use with regularity these days) is EASY. The trouble comes when one starts actually using the media for which it was intended, and that is to make connections between people. For our purposes here, I’m specifically talking about celebrities and other fans of those celebrities…and more specifically, the band members (past, present, future, backup band, etc) and us. The Fans.
On one hand, we’ve got the band. People like John Taylor for instance. I don’t think there’s any argument from anyone that he started using Twitter simply as an avenue to get the album promoted and sold. In fact, I know he’s done interviews saying as much. Simon was on Twitter well before John ever joined, but I don’t think he really used it much. As we’ve heard since then, John is downright addicted to Twitter in a lot of ways, and it sounds to me as though he gets a certain amount of enjoyment (much to his surprise?) out of using Twitter. He’s indicated that perhaps he’s getting more than just promotion out of Twitter, that maybe he’s even having fun communicating with fans to some extent. I would imagine that this is far more than he would have expected. Simon seems to enjoy Twitter to some extent as well. Fans in turn probably read this to mean that the band loves talking to their fans…and thus we travel down the slippery slope to whatever fantasies we’ve got going on in our own heads, which we’ll come back to later.
In the other firm grip of the other hand, there are the fans. You and I. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was on Twitter before the band. I had my own account way before Amanda and I started Daily Duranie, but I didn’t get it. I wondered why anyone would care what I was doing during any part of my day. It felt very voyeuristic to begin with, and so my Twitter visits were kept to a minimum. I stuck to following the few friends I already had…which was truly bizarre since I already knew what those people were up to, and didn’t bother with much else. I just didn’t see the purpose. I don’t read the gossip rags, I don’t watch those types of shows on TV, and to be blunt I don’t give a shit what Lindsay Lohan or Donald Trump is thinking in any given moment. Unless one of the news stations was going to tweet that the world was ending…I just didn’t think Twitter had value. I’d still check with Twitter from time to time when I thought of it though. (you can read this as: I would check Twitter when I’d remember – which meant every 3 months or so, and then pray I still remembered my password.) Once we started blogging and I got the @DailyDuranie account started though, I checked it every day and started actually communicating – it was a great way to tell people when the next edition of the blog was up each day. I liked that Twitter worked in real time, and after a while I noticed you could really have a conversation with people. It wasn’t about just saying what I was up to – it was like a giant chat room, and that part was fun. I would imagine that other fans had similar experiences.
Then one day, John and Simon actually started tweeting. And answering FANS. Suddenly Twitter wasn’t about just chatting with friends. It was about seeing what the band was up to. It was a lifeline while we were waiting for the new album. John openly teased us with tour and album tidbits. (I still haven’t forgiven him for ruthlessly dropping Coachella hints before the announcement…then telling everyone that no, it wasn’t going to happen…and then disappearing right before the announcement was made. If there was ever a good moment for spanking….Oh. Boy.) Simon posted…well….Simon-types of tweets. I scratched my head a lot. It was good.
Are you wondering about that double edged sword yet?
Social Networking is complicated. Why? Here is the newsflash: no matter how much we want to believe otherwise – it is part of a celebrity’s JOB. While yes, John and Simon (and Dom, although he really needs a bit of a tutorial. :D) probably enjoy tweeting and reading funny or nice things back from the fans, they are not our friends. They have no idea who we are. Sure, they might recognize our screen names. They might even follow us. (not a chance in hell when it comes to Daily Duranie and that’s OK.) However difficult it is to understand, Twitter is not a pure unadulterated two way street of friendship between band member (celebrity) and fan. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that interactions with fans probably equals sales of tickets, albums, etc. Duran Duran would not be a band…or at least not a very lucrative one…without sales of some sort. This one tiny kernel of truth – that it is at least a small part of the band’s JOB to interact, even if they enjoy it – is what makes social networking a double edged sword for both the band and the fans.
Yes, it’s very good to connect; it is also very good to establish boundaries. It’s also very good for the fans to in turn respect those boundaries, however slippery, vague or hazy they may seem. The trouble there is that some fans have a difficult time navigating the boundaries without crossing the line. It’s not all that difficult for any of us (or at least it shouldn’t be) to understand how it happens. We’ve all been there in that exciting moment when Simon is online. He’s tweeting…you’re typing as fast as your little fingers can type so that you can hit “send”, hoping he sees your tweet and responds back, and bingo – that precious moment arrives. You might have sent something so incredibly interesting that has absolutely nothing to do with Duran Duran (my guess is that this in turn is a very precious moment for them: when they can actually talk about something other than that blasted band of theirs…), and you get more than one reply….or even *gasp* a Direct Message. *more gasping* Let’s be honest here, we’ve been fans for 30 years. We think we know these guys. I get that. My gosh, I KNOW that feeling. It’s OK to admit that, you’re not anymore of a freak than I am, and so therefore we’re all in good company here. The trouble is that connecting through Twitter and Facebook can be so much of a seduction that we forget where that line between fan and friend really lies, and it happens to everyone. Even me. Even you.
Saying the words that create the boundary for our relationship(s) with the band is simple. Typing them makes it all even easier until we start getting real. Interacting with the band online is very similar to being at a concert and being in about the 10th row. You think you’ve caught an eye from one of them, they wink or smile and you are positive it must have been intended for you. The reality is that that they could have smiled at your (*MY*) general direction and you’d have still thought it was for you, right?!? Based on that, you’re sure that when you go to the show the following night, you’ll get another smile because my gosh – they’ll recognize you! And that my friends…is my own personal story here. I’m that girl that is insistent that the band (or a member thereof) has smiled or winked at her during a show. As if I was the only person IN the audience. How incredibly narcissistic?!?! Yes, I know. It’s OK to admit it here. Call it therapy, I do.
So as I go back to trying to write this social networking chapter, I need to admit that this is never going to be simple. I can’t completely untangle the complicated relationship we have with the band, no matter how one-sided it might actually be…
or is it? Ah. Another blog for another day.