be kind, be brave, be polite

“A person’s a person no matter how small.” – Horton, Horton Hears a Who

Being a fan of someone famous is a weird concept, you choose someone who you’ve never met before – and most likely don’t think you ever will – and decide that they inspire you. It can be a singer, an actor, an author, a politician – anyone. Everyone can find inspiration in someone for whatever reason.

I’m sure most of you know who my main inspiration is by now – Katie Derham, of course. For all of your sakes, I’ll save you the exhaustion of reading all about why she is an inspiration to me all over again. (That blog post can be found here.) But with the world of social networking, especially sites like twitter and instagram, contacting someone who has become such an inspiration can be quite simple. To go back to Katie for a moment, I first contacted her through a simple tweet and asked where I could send a fan letter. From there, it extended to mutual following on twitter and instagram, as well as planned coffee dates and the dynamic of friends who have known each other for years instead of months. But that’s an aside to the point.

With the ease of things such as twitter and instagram, it also becomes much easier to reach out to people who inspire you and tell them why they’ve become such an inspiration. In fact, it can even feel a bit like you’re friends just by the fact that a lot of celebrities use such social media accounts to share parts of their world with their fans. They’ll post photos of their friends, their family, even sometimes things that they do in their free time, which makes them all the more human. But, this also lets their fans into a very dangerous world of knowing.

But one thing that so many people forget is that being a fan of someone isn’t black and white, it’s shades of grey that can vary for every single person. Being someone’s fan doesn’t mean that you have to like every bit of their life, or everything they’ve done, or even a part of their personal life that they share on such social media sites. It doesn’t make you any less of a fan to find something human about them that annoys you – it makes it feel more real. And when these celebrities acknowledge the existence of their fans, it can become a slippery slope for both them and their fans.

Celebrities are people too. By now, this should be fairly common knowledge to most people. They have lives that exist outside of their phones; they cook meals, have to run errands, they have to go out in public – I could go on. That also means that they take things, and notice things, on a very personal level. And they also know the difference between someone who is truly a fan versus someone who is just looking for attention.

In my experience of being a fan of Katie, I’ve met both – people who truly care about her and the people who simply want to tweet her because they know that she’ll acknowledge them. And for me, I do genuinely love supporting her; I love hearing her talk about her love for classical music, and I don’t listen to her on the radio or go to the proms because she loves it. I go because it means something to me at the end of the day. Whether she loved it or not is irrelevant to me, because at the end of the day, her love of it only helps encourage the fact that I remain inspired by her.

At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with being a fan of someone, not at all. The feeling of finding someone who inspires you to push yourself to be a better person, or chase your dreams, or change your life is an incredible feeling. A lot of people say that can be unhealthy, that you shouldn’t put someone on a pedestal like that, but for what purpose? Finding someone who inspires you can change a lot – it did for me. But at the same time, never forget that celebrities are human too and they can sense when someone truly cares or when someone simply wants to be noticed.

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