What constitutes crossing the line? Where exactly are your boundaries for what you will or won’t say online?
Mine fluctuate based on the circumstance, I suppose. Amanda and I have been known to give one another a rough time, even mock-threatening to leave one another stranded on the side of a road somewhere, but that’s because we’re friends. (Makes you think what we might say if we weren’t, I guess!)
Does the band count amongst the people I know? Sure, I’ve “known” them for many years, but I don’t really think any of them would be able to pick me out of a lineup. (Then again, given the situation – perhaps that’s best!) I don’t think any of them know me by name. Maybe they do, but I really wouldn’t count on it. The math – thousands of fans, bloggers, fan sites vs. four of them….doesn’t quite make for the best odds. It’s understandable.
I’m a fan of Duran Duran. That does not mean that I am a fan of every single thing that anyone included in that precious inner-circle, such as roadies, friends, management team, wives, children, significant others, life partners, siblings, distant cousins, and so on, chooses to say or do. Just because someone decides to enter into a relationship with a band member doesn’t mean that they’ve decided to stop being human and stop responding to life the same way you or I might. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t afford them some grace, understanding, and kindness, and privacy, if you ask me.
I know that not everyone agrees with me on this. I’m asking the tough questions today: where is YOUR boundary? When do you realize your internal filter is flagging you down to stop and think?
The answers here are difficult. It is rare that I’m genuinely concerned for Duran Duran or even their friends and family because someone decided to slash and burn them on social media. After all, they pay a team of people to handle that sort of thing for them. They’ve got security, and likely – none of them care what somebody like me or even you thinks of them. Why should they? On the other hand, I do worry about fellow fans – the people who might be doing that slashing and burning – at times.
As I said recently, it’s not the line that is being crossed, it is the escalation of severity. I know a lot of people who have gotten into arguments with fans. For that matter, I myself have had the occasional run-in with a fan or two. It happens when people are passionate about something. What I don’t see very often though, are those same fans going directly after people in DD’s inner circle.
I worry that sometimes, we are too quick to call someone “batshit crazy”, rather than hold out a hand and be the person to help rather than hurt. And let me be the first to say the obvious: sometimes people cannot be helped. I’m no psychologist, and I’m definitely not perfect. When someone goes from just ranting at fans to ranting directly at a band member, wife, or girlfriend – it’s worrisome. But what do we do? Do we make sure to point out that we’re not friends with that person, that we know of them but don’t like them? Do we message them and ask if they’re OK? Or do we do like most of us would – and just sit back and watch the drama unfold?
Sometimes, I feel like this community thrives on the drama. Rather than offer up support to people on the fringe, we pass out the popcorn and sit back on the sofa to watch. After all, the 24-hour news cycle was created for those who like to watch the train wreck. But at what point do we recognize that there are actual humans involved? This community isn’t so big that we’re all anonymous faces to one another. Many of us at least recognize one another, even if we’ve never formally met. Are we so heartless and so cynical that when someone steps outside of that ever-so-vague boundary that we give them a gentle shove over the edge of the cliff?
I’m no innocent here. I’ve certainly had my own moments of being a couch potato with my bag of popcorn, watching a couple of community members go back and forth on the message board. As I’ve watched, I’ve also ended up feeling awful. I took the easy way out. It is easier to be silent and let the masses do their thing without getting in the way and becoming the new target.
Half of the problem is that the boundaries are more personal suggestions than written in stone. Not everyone abides by the same rules – and let’s face it: the rules for some are different from others. I’m not here to tell anybody where the real boundaries are – your guess is as good as mine. It is also very difficult to say what someone’s true intentions might be, particularly online.
I just keep thinking that with all of the reading I’ve done about fandom, there are some actions that indicate something far different besides just crossing a boundary or being an overzealous fan. It’s like this – the difference between love and hate is very subtle. Both emotions require a lot of passion. Indifference—that take-it-or-leave-it area—is easy. It requires no effort. There are some people who start out adoring someone, perhaps unreasonably so, and for whatever reason, end up hating them. Or hating their choices with the same amount of passion that they once loved. What happens then?
Food for thought.