As some of you know, long before — decades before — I was a Madrugada obsessive, I was an R.E.M. obsessive. We’re talking pile in the van and spend countless hours tooling around the midwest to see them. Now I did manage to stay in college and get good grades, so I guess I wasn’t as obsessive as some, but I was pretty darn hard core.
I was also very lucky because I met them very early on and got along with Peter and Michael very well. If I were to run into either of them walking down the street, I’m sure they’d say “hi Nancy!” and stop to chat. They’d recognize me in an airport and smile to see me.
So I was kind of tickled, and a little entertained, to see that they were on Facebook. Though I was a wee bit suspicious, I’ll admit, from the get-go. I could kind of see Peter doing it, but Michael? Last time I saw him, his assistant was checking his email for him, I couldn’t see him hanging on FB for kicks.
But what the heck, how could I not send a friends request? So I did. And for weeks nothing happened. Which was about what I expected.
Then both friends requests were accepted within 45 minutes of each other.
Over the next couple of hours I watched as they both joined lots of groups and became friends with the same people at the same time.
And I’m thinking, ok, I didn’t really expect it to really be you, but do you have to make it SO OBVIOUS that it’s not?
I assume it’s someone at WB. I have considerable respect for Ethan Kaplan, who started the REM fansite Murmurs.com and went on to become Warner Bros Records tech guy, who’s probably figuring they ought to have a web presence on the site-du-jour. He knows his online community management as well as anyone. But this was shockingly lame.
Of course these famous people will need help managing their online identities given the numbers of people who want a piece of their attention. I’ve seen it face-to-face, I know it’s exponentially worse online. But much of the magic of sites like MySpace, or increasingly Facebook, in fandom, is creating the illusion — if not the reality (which is better) — that the celebrity knows you, cares about you, recognizes you as an individual.
When it’s totally obvious that the celebrity is really an intern clicking ‘accept’ on every friend request and group invitation that showed up, there’s no magic left. Just a cheap feeling of buying a faulty product. Better not to have them on there at all.
But I don’t think I’ll unfriend them, because it’s still a hoot to see their names in my friends wheel.
Update: I have been told that this is a WBR experiment that’s not working so well. I have a lot of ideas about how it could have worked I’ll expand on later. In the meantime I did adjust my minifeed preferences so I don’t have to see every stupid group they joined and every fan they friended every time it happens.