Monday, December 7, 2009

Friends & Strangers

I've got a fan. At least, I assume he's a fan, because otherwise I have no idea why some random guy who works for a hospital in Northeastern XXXXXXX would want to friend me on Facebook. I don't have many -OK, any- connections in that part of the world.

But I did give a concert there the night before last, and my name was printed in the program, along with where I went to school and the city I live in now. That performer bio may seem like a joke, but it contains the truth, and the truth is a powerful thing. If it doesn't set you free it sure as heck makes you searchable on Facebook.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I've joked about wanting hordes of early music groupies, but now that I'm presented with a single mildly enthusiastic cyber-fan, I'm mostly just unsettled. You mean those people in the audience are REAL? You mean they have lives and agendas and wants, and those lives and agendas and wants can intersect with mine?

It's more than that. I'd somehow convinced myself that, in going onstage, I was exposing only a small part of myself. The ankles, maybe, if ankles had pitch and rhythm. In no way did I think I was stripping down, offering my whole self to be scrutinized and labeled and friended, for God's sake. The music I'd take public; the rest was private.

Possibly that was naive. I mean, can you really get up and blow into a metal tube in front of six hundred people and pretend you retain a right to invisibility? Can you be anonymous if your picture is on a promotional poster? And why even try for invisibility if visibility is what powers your career?

As with this blog, I want to control what I expose and what I don't. Is that my prerogative? Is it even possible?

Accept? Ignore?


Anonymous said...

Maybe make a facebook fan page for yourself with a pic, bio, and a performance schedule? Maybe some other musical blurbs? Then direct fans to become your fans that way, instead of allowing them into your personal life, ie friends list?

It's down at the bottom of the page, under 'Advertising,' in case you were wondering.

Kirk Hamilton said...

What Will said! I was actually going to write a funny "Time to start a facebook fan page" joke (seriously, you missed out, it was going to be so funny) but then I realized that a FB page, or something like it, is a good way to go for a number of reasons. Most of which you probably already realize.

But yeah, I've found that it's about constantly re-drawing those bounderies every so often. It got harder when I started performing under my own name, too.

I started a FB fan page, and though it felt weird to request that my friends become my "fan" as well, it's given people with whom I wouldn't normally be FB friends (strangers, students, some co-workers) a way to keep track of what I'm up to.

But yeah, it's always a little surreal when you meet someone who doesn't know you, but knows your music. Start writing lyrics about your life and it only gets surreal-er. Like, "Hey, man, I know you! I really like that song you wrote about when that actual person broke your heart."

CAPTCHA word: "calnests."

Definition: Calnests - n. plur. Areas containing a high concentration of UC Berkeley fans.

Sarah said...

I'm picky about my friends and only accept requests when there's a direct two-way street. Sure, this guy has a connection to you, but do you have a connection to him?

And Will's suggestion is brilliant. Do that.

Anne said...

You all are right, of course. But I think I'll hold off. I'm not ready to bifurcate myself so publicly.