I don't usually end up feeling personally insulted by an article in a newspaper which is connected with someone who I have never met who happens to be a "celebrity" - in the case of the article spelling out the difference between a friend and a fan (inspired by the backlash about Bill Cosby) it came at completely the wrong time for me to take it with my usual "That's what sells newspapers" attitude. Allow me to explain why I hit the roof.
There are three people in my personal circle of friends and family who have achieved some level of fame in their respected fields of expertise. Two of them have publicly acknowledged me as their friend - one of them would acknowledge me as being related to him and that is all (I last saw him in real life nearly 18 years ago but I know he is still alive).
I would also admit to being a fan of the two who have publicly acknowledged me as their friend. My relative works in my least favourite profession on the planet so - unless I find myself in need of his expertise (and in the right country) - I am not likely to be one of his fans, admirers, etc.
Over the past 60 days I have had a real experience of what it means to be a friend as well as a fan of someone I really admire. You might have noticed I have blogged, tweeted, and, posted on Facebook, about a PledgeMusic campaign for Kristyna Myles' second album which hit its target during the latter part of last week.
What you will not know (unless you have spoken to me about it) is how emotionally involved I was with the campaign. I didn't just want it to be a success so I could get my paws on Kristyna's new album - I wanted it to be a sucess because I consider her to be one of my dearest friends and I was heartbroken when I didn't think she would reach the target.
Those of you who are my friends (either in real life or on Social Media) will know I will support you as much as I can - from sending you a hug to being a Sounding Board, to actively trying to help you.
When I read the (frankly extremely patronising) article on how "fans are not friends amd how you can tell which one you are", I was trying to get Pledgers for Kristyna's campaign.
Now - I may be completely wrong here but I think I have some simpler ideas about how to tell if you are a friend as well as a fan of someone. (Feel free to disagree with anything on the list below);
1) Have you actually met them and spoken to them for more time than it takes to say "Hi"?
2) Have they introduced you to other people as their friend?
3) Have you exchanged private contact details with them (ie, telephone number, private email addresses)?
4) Have they (willingly) introduced you to any member of their family?
5) Have they displayed true concern for your wellbeing (eg, remembered small details about you and asked you about whatever you told them last time you saw them)?
6) Are you emotionally involved in their success as well as their failures? (As in - do you support their efforts to be successful in practical ways because of what you can get out of it or because of what they can get out of it???)
If you can honestly say yes to at least three of the above I would classify you as a fan as well as a friend of the object of your Hero Worship.
I got paid a great (and extremely undeserved) compliment today. I was given the title of "Super Fan" by a very dear and close friend of mine who knows what I have done to support Kristyna.
I happen to know someone who deserves that title a lot more than me who happens to be a mutual friend of mine and Kristyna's - Julie Kirkpatrick advertises Kristyna's music in almost every way possible (she is not on Facebook though) and she has almost more reason to do that than I ever will. All I will say is that Julie has changed "I'm Not Going Back" for me forever.
I know I will probably never meet Richie Sambora, Jon Bon Jovi, Koen Wauters, Julien Neel, Billy Connolly, Bill Bryson, or any other famous "celebrity" who I happen to admire (and that little lot are the people who I really would have trouble stringing two words together if I ever found myself standing in front of them). But I also know how priviledged I am to be able to consider Kristyna Myles to be a very dear friend of mine, in the same way I feel very priviledged to class Steve Bowkett as a friend of mine (both of these have had a great impact on my life and allowed me to be part of their lives in some way).
The big name celebrities who wouldn't know you if they had to identify you in a Police lineup are fine for admiring but, chances are, you will never get to know them properly and be part of their lives in any meaningful way. The real stars are the people who have made a difference to your life in even the smallest way - maybe just by saying a friendly "hi" when they see you, or by inviting you for a drink if they see you are lonely, or standing up for you when someone is nasty, or going out of their way to help you if you are in trouble. You certainly don't need to be famous to do any of those for anybody.
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