#351: Fans vs. Friends

Hello, Captain.  

I have a question about meeting internet quasi-celebrities!  Hopefully this is not something you get too terribly often.

 A few months ago, I attended a reading by a fairly well-known blogger/media reviewer whose work I admire for many reasons, but mostly because he’s an extremely funny person and his ideas gave me a lot of insight into racism and classism and other –isms I was pretty ignorant about up to that point.  (I’ll just call him BloggerDude.) In the weeks leading up to this event I was alternately excited and nervous, partly because I have mild social anxiety and partly because I didn’t want to either be overly fangirly or unwittingly say something offensive.  (Yes, this is something I actually worry about – not because I’m particularly prone to shouting out offensive things, but because of the socially conscious tone of most of his blog and the amount of points he’s made that I’d never thought of before.)

Anyway.  BD was on tour and was in my town for two days, and on the first night he invited his readers to just join him for dinner and hang out, so I did.  I met a lot of cool people and gave him a picture I had drawn of him with one of his favorite characters, and he seemed very pleased with it, to the point where he kept it next to his plate all through dinner.  Afterward, most of us went to the person’s house where BD was staying and just laughed at stupid emails and YouTube videos.  The next day, at the reading, he and a few of the people from the night before were talking about his next tour stop and how they were all going to go and spend the weekend there before returning to MyTown.  I had to work that weekend or I might have decided to join them, since for most of them besides BD it appeared to be a spur-of-the-moment trip; as it was, I asked if one of them would let me know when they got back so we could hang out again before BD left MyTown for good.  They all seemed cool with that, and BD gave me his number.

After that, I did not hear back from him.  I sent two messages – one Sunday and one Monday – asking about plans, and didn’t pursue it beyond that; I figured he was doing his own thing.  However, since then I’ve attempted to talk to him on Facebook a couple of times – not excessively; maybe two or three times since the beginning of May – and still got no response.  We obviously aren’t the best of friends or anything, but I’ve seen him connect before with fans that he’s met, and I was under the impression that we all had a good time.

I realize there are dozens of reasons why he could have chosen to not talk to me, none of which have anything to do with me specifically, and I also realize that Not Everyone Has to Like Me.  However, the part of me that’s still gripped by social anxiety will continue worrying at my brain with this unanswered question until I know for sure whether this is because of something I’ve done – and, if that does turn out to be the problem, I’d like to know so I can avoid that in the future. My question is, would it be appropriate to ask BD if I’ve said or done anything wrong?    And if so, what would be a good way to word it so as not to come off as OH MY GOD WHY WON’T YOU TALK TO MEEEEEEEE? (I reeeeally do not want to be That Person.)


Hopefully Not A Fangirl

Hi Fangirl!

Here’s what happened:

Blogger Dude TOTALLY enjoyed meeting you and hanging out.

However, he thinks of you as a COOL FAN and not a FRIEND.

That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. Good artists/communicators/writers/people you’d want to become fans of are really good at creating a feeling of connection and intimacy with their audience. They make themselves vulnerable in their work, perhaps, or have a very relatable communication style. This guy obviously enjoys hanging out and interacting with his fans, and you weren’t wrong to enjoy that or to follow up with him via Facebook.

The fact that he’s not replying to your messages means that you probably shouldn’t send him any more private messages, though. Even if there weren’t a lot of cool people competing for his e-attention, apply the “Contact once, maybe twice, then let the other person contact you” rule of reciprocity for any new acquaintanceship (potential friend, dating partner, employer, client, etc.)

That doesn’t mean you can’t ever interact – Twitter, Facebook, etc. make it incredibly easy to talk to famous people. You can say “Musician, I love the new song!” or “Blogger, that post today was great and made me really think about issue X!” or ask questions. You just have to do it with the assumption that you’re one of many, many, many people who are doing the same thing. Not getting a reply isn’t a personal rejection.

I’m glad you wrote to me and not to him. Sending him an email to ask “whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy won’t you talk to me and did I do anything wrong?” is the fastest way to get demoted from Cool Fan to Whoa, Maybe A Stalker. The answer is that he isn’t thinking about you all that much, because there are a lot of people who are Cool Fans. Writing to him in that fashion makes him have to take care of you around your anxiety. That anxiety? That’s yours to manage.

Next time he comes to town, hang out and have a good time. Don’t ask it to be any more than a good time with someone you admire. Maybe over time and repeated hangouts you’ll get to know each other better, but you can’t make that happen. Trying too hard to make that happen is pretty much the way you guarantee that it never will. When people have a lot of demands on their time and people competing for their attention, the people who are super-relaxed and easygoing about it stand out positively.

P.S. If Blogger Dude = J. Smooth I totally understand and share your admiration/crush/fangirlishness. That man is FINE and serves as the Imaginary Blogger Boyfriend to many of us.

68 thoughts on “#351: Fans vs. Friends

          1. I miss Background Cat. The Animal vids have been aiming up at the ceiling more and there’s been no cat sightings. (And I don’t even like cats, but it was fun to wait for the cat cameos.)

          1. Nthed. I’m not a big video-watcher or podcast-listener–just a preference, I prefer and understand text over anything else–but I do enjoy his videos. He’s got such a great presence! And a cat!

          2. Literal LOL.

            His Google Alerts are going to be mighty interesting tonight. Or, you know, the usual.

      1. Nthing the JSmooth love. Only video podcast I ever regularly watch. Generally I prefer text. But his voice! And his smarts! I’m in the fan girl club.

  1. Speaking as someone who used to have a mild Internet fandom, I emphatically agree with Captain Awkward. He is dealing with dozens to hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people trying to be his friend. I actually shut down my blog because I wasn’t comfortable with the level of fandom being directed toward me. I don’t think this guy sounds like he would do that, but it doesn’t mean it won’t stress him out to have people acting kind of clingy.

    Rest assured that he likes you, though. I seriously doubt he would have given you his contact info if he didn’t think you were a great person. 🙂

  2. CA hit the nail on the head, but I wanted to add a bit more.

    I hate to build a fame hierarchy, but for the purpose of making things more clear in an internet post: Normal Folks, Well-Known Folks, Famous Folks.

    I’m a part of the Normal Folks. I have friends who are Well-Known Folks, and I have friends who are Famous Folks.


    I find that Well-Known Folks are more overwhelmed by people in general, not just fans. They tend to attract a moderate amount of attention from a vast group of people, but also more concentrated attention from a specific crowd of people.

    Famous Folks tend to be less overwhelmed by fans the more famous they become and here’s why: It’s background noise. Ever see someone surrounded by a crowd of people who are all shouting and asking for something? You try to answer as many people as you can, but in the end they become a mob of noise.

    This doesn’t happen to Well-Known Folks. There’s no mob mentality, which means that Well-Known Folks tend to try to network with their fans because in the end, they like you because they like what you do, not because of who you are.

    I think this is what BloggerDude was doing–saying “Hey I really appreciate it, and I want you to know that I value you as a fan and potentially as a friend.”

    That may still be valid.

    Please don’t let this be a “lesson in socialisation” because it’s not. This situation has absolutely nothing to do with how you handled yourself, and who you are as a person. He may just be overwhelmed right now with the amount of people who speak to him on a daily basis.

    I can understand why his behaviour (or lack of it) could concern you, because in a Normal Folks social interaction it’s a little weird.

    My advice: hang in there. Don’t ask him what you did, just do the same thing you used to do before you met him. Comment on his blog; tell him what you like about it. Relate to him about his work. After all, relating to his work is what led him to reach out to you in the first place.

    1. Yeah, it’s important not to view this kind of thing as a Real World Socialization lesson of any kind. It’s like, everyone knows–or feels they know–this one person, and This One Person is standing there going, “I don’t know anything about any of you.” Even when the well-known-ness is pleasant, it’s still definitely not how Real World Socialization goes, and it’s a disconcerting imbalance–even if This One Person is super social and really enjoys getting to know tons of people, he still has to catch up with how well the other twelve people in the room already know him. Wasn’t there some study that said people basically have 4-5 close friends, and when they acquire a new friend, one of the other friendships ends up receding somehow? Point being, it’s great to meet people, and I hope there’s not a hard limit on how many friends and acquaintances people can have, but it may be that a single person only has so much to give. Not getting any closer than Blogger Dude did may just be his way of coping with the sheer number of people who want to know him vs. his actual capacity for knowing that many.

      1. OMG why does it not surprise me that one of my favourite bloggers is commenting on one of my favourite new blogs (wait, this was all supposed to be about not getting too fangirly, wasn’t it?)

        I’ve heard the same thing about the number of close friendships one can maintain, in a workshop about information retention for museum exhibits/tours. I used to use it to justify telling new tour guides NOT to talk about how 19th century medicines sometimes used heroin and cocaine.

      2. It’s like, everyone knows–or feels they know–this one person, and This One Person is standing there going, “I don’t know anything about any of you.”

        Oh word to this. I’m not famous or even well-known, but I am Very Distinctive Looking and work in Specialized Hobby Retail, and a lot of people think we are buds, and that I *should* remember them/their names/what they bought/etc. This is a good lesson that is applicable in lots of places, is what I’m saying.

      3. I don’t know about the study you mentioned, but I did learn of one (in Robin Dunbar’s Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language) that indicated that the greatest number of social connections a person could reasonably keep track of topped out around 150. This was definitely pre-social media (in fact, pre-regular internet use for many people), so it might be that the nature of social media has modified that info, but there’s the stat for what it’s worth. It does seem quite relevant in a case like this. I was once a moderately-sized fish in a very small pond, and I discovered that my ability to feel safe and in control of my public presence did indeed start to fade when the number of people I was trying to maintain some regular connection with went over that 150 number. A modestly well-known blogger likely has that many connections already, and adding new ones can require shifting around existing connections or deciding that they’re simply not capable of making more at this time, which has nothing to do with any individual and everything to do with managing their social and emotional healthiness.

        1. Unfortunately, the only citation I’ve got is the journal of I-know-I-read-it-somewhere, but I remember seeing some more recent study that suggested 150 people was the top limit of a cohesive social group, but that people can keep track of a fairly large number of non-overlapping, or minimally-overlapping, 150-person groups.

  3. I’m not a well-known blogger, but I have a pretty popular Twitter that I’ve made some awesome friends through and I’ve sort of been in BloggerDude’s position, to a much smaller degree, and LW, just know that it’s really, REALLY not personal. I’m at the point now where I simply have as many friends as I can handle without either neglecting them or giving up the Me Time I need to stay sane. I know there are lots more super cool people out there who I’d probably love if I got to know them, but the time and capacity for the getting-to-know-ing is simply not there. It definitely doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize and appreciate their super coolness.

    And this is the TRUEST THING:

    When people have a lot of demands on their time and people competing for their attention, the people who are super-relaxed and easygoing about it stand out positively.

    BloggerDude might actually be dealing with a lot of guilt and stress already about not being able to befriend everyone; I know I have and still struggle with it sometimes.

    Hopefully this makes sense and doesn’t come across all “Oh, it’s so HARD to be popular!” I just want to reassure the LW that she most likely did nothing wrong, is totally rad, and that Blogger Dude’s response or lack thereof really has nothing to do with her.

    1. Oops, should probably clarify that my Twitter handle isn’t the same as this one. There’s probably an @Gine on Twitter–that isn’t me.

    2. This, especially the bit about being easygoing not automatically dooming you to the ‘forgotten’ bin.

      Storytime: I have a friend who could be considered Well-Known within certain Internet/fandom circles, and had already been Well-Known for several years when I first encountered hir work. Ze also is a very private person who emphatically does not like crowds and pressure. I fangirled hir like whoa, but tried to stay relatively low-key about it (somehow!) whenever we interacted. The result, after a year or so of being easygoing about it? Was invitations to lunch, trust, and now one of my most valued friendships. If I had pressured hir or demanded more interaction? Probably none of that would have happened.

      What I mean to say, LW, is that being cool and laid-back about it is not a losing strategy. It will not guarantee you a closer relationship with BloggerDude, but it will help you *not lose* the closeness you do have, and might lead to greater closeness down the road, if/when he sees that he can trust you not to pressure him. You want to be someone he feels *comfortable* being around, not OMG That Fan.

  4. I feel like this is one worth bringing me out of the \”lurking and not commenting\” state.

    LW, I know that feel. I\’ve been on both sides of this, and it\’s WEIRD on both ends to try and figure out the fan/friend line.

    The weirdest encounter I\’ve had with this was when I was just beginning to get popular in my sector of blogging (which is still not very popular as it\’s a niche market) last year. I commented on Twitter that I was in Chicago for a job interview (a place far from my home at the time), and promptly received an email from a dude who was all, \”Hey! I\’m in Chicago too and I like your blog and I think you should let me buy you a coffee!\”

    The man had never commented on my blog before (to my knowledge) and we\’d never communicated before this email. But he felt – because, as Captain Awkward says, writers/bloggers tend to be very open and relate-able and good at making you feel like you know them – that it was appropriate for a 40yo man to ask a 25yo female blogger out for coffee in a city that was strange to her. He misjudged the nature of the fan-artist relationship, and it made things very awkward for me and for him. He exhibited the entitlement of a friend when he should have simply behaved as a fan. If that makes sense. :/

    I think it\’s important to realize that BD is also playing this puzzle on his end, because when you\’re blogging and tweeting and interacting with \”fans\” every day, you\’re constantly having to gauge the nature of those relationships. There are some I\’ve had to just not respond and shut down because the person was moving into \”whoa stalker!\” category. It\’s much safer, both for you and the blogger\’s mental health, to just assume that you are in the category of \”fan\” instead of friend, unless you get direct signals otherwise (like prompt, enthusiastic replies to your messages).

    And hey, this isn\’t a total loss. So you didn\’t become besties with blogger dude. It still sounds like you had a pretty awesome weekend and a great story to tell about \”that one time I had dinner with this awesome dude I admire.\” Which is a cool story to have.

  5. “When people have a lot of demands on their time and people competing for their attention, the people who are super-relaxed and easygoing about it stand out positively.”

    That is so true.
    One time I went to a book signing by a Dreamy Actor from the LOTR trilogy. I was super nervous about meeting him (due to a huge crush). There were about 1,000 people in line that day, including a grown-up woman who had sewed a pillowcase out of a T-shirt with his character/face on it. She was telling everyone around us that she made out with her pillowcase every night, and that she was going to ask him to sign her book: “To Mrs. [Dreamy Actor’s Last Name]”.

    I was SO THANKFUL she was in front of me in line, because she so completely overshadowed my perceived feelings of fangirl dorkiness that I felt normal by comparison.

    When she got to him, he politely refused to sign her book the way she wanted, and I could tell by the rictus smile on his face that he was terrified. By the time I got to him, I had talked myself into a Zen place and was even relaxed enough to crack a little joke, and then he laughed and I l laughed, and now I have a signed book and a really nice memory of that moment.

    LW, you are not That Fan with the pillowcase. It sounds like Blogger Dude genuinely liked getting to know you, but I would keep any interactions light, on the surface, and don’t expect a response. Like, maybe comment occasionally when he posts something on FB, etc. Maybe the next time he comes to your town you can hang out again?

    One other thing: I have one friend who’s relatively famous, and I would say that he takes an inordinately long amount of time getting to know people before they become Actual Friends of his, because he’s had so many people try to get into his world to further some agenda of theirs that he’s really cautious now. So it’s not you, you did nothing wrong.

    1. OMG CREEPY PILLOWCASE LADY. It was Orlando Bloom, wasn’t it? Or was it Sean Bean?

      Someone should write a murder mystery where the pillowcase lady is a red herring.

      1. True Story:

        At a very small cafe, eating lunch, we see a man in a shirt the same color as the other people who work there. A few of the other patrons approach him. My boyfriend assumes he is a server and scoots his empty plate towards him. The man looks at it, and walks away. The man was Orlando Bloom.

          1. Actually it was Viggo (and he was super nice). I have seen Orlando Bloom in person, too, smoking ciggies by the side of the road in the rain on April Fool’s Day. I kid you not. I made the husband pull a U-ey in the middle of the road and drive by twice. He looked good.

          2. My Orlando story is this: At a huge arts awards event last year I was seated above the VIP tables, where Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr were sitting with Peter Jackson and Stephen Fry. One of the awards winners stepped down off the stage with her trophy and spotted Orlando. She approached their table with camera in hand and (from the body language) asked if she could have a photo. She handed her camera blithely to Peter Jackson, clearly without a clue that she’d just asked a famous director to take her fan photo. They were all totally gracious and (again from the body language) congratulated her on her win. 😀

  6. This hits close to home… I have a sorta-crush on a blogger/reviewer (OH GOD, IS IT THE SAME ONE??? IT’S POSSIBLE) who lives in a city near me. I have never met him in person! I missed a local reading because I heard about it the day after it happened! We don’t know each other! But he shares a lot of personal information so it’s easy for readers to feel a strong connection to him, plus he’s been doing a lot of video blogging lately and it’s kind of hard for me not to lose my shit over adorable queer dudes with fantastic facial expressions.

    I’m very aware that I *don’t* actually have a Deep Personal Connection with him, but I think in a situation where I had the opportunity to have a conversation with him in person, it would be really easy for me to lose that perspective and try to be a Friend vs. a Cool Fan. We’ve had a brief email conversation in relation to a purchase I made from his store, and that was friendly but not particularly intimate because he didn’t know who I was, he just wanted to talk about something I’d sent him to read. It was exciting but not the start of a friendship (no matter how much I might secretly want it to be).

    LW, I think the Captain’s advice is spot-on. If you get a chance to interact with him in person again, go for it – he sounds like a friendly guy who likes hanging out with fans. But he probably has a LOT of fans and can’t form close friendships with all of them. If he’s going to take that step with you, you have to let him take the lead in that process.

  7. I love this advice.

    Also, I think, it’s important to remember that a blogger or artist’s public persona is not necessarily their True Self (TM). Also, you may like them in one context and not in another.

    I met a minor web-celebrity once and while I had really liked what he blogged, I found him pretty much intolerable in person. In that case, the problem actually was that he didn’t seem to have any other sides to his personality, and so it was an entire evening about This One Topic He Cares About. Ever since, I have a hard time reading him because I see him as slightly unhinged.

    So, you know, you love this guy’s stuff and you had a good time with him, but you don’t actually know him very well. It’s important for fans to remember that, even though it’s hard and kind of awkward when really what you want to do is gush about their deep abiding awesomeness OMG.

  8. Seconding everything everyone here has said. I have become friends with fellow bloggers, but it took a while and I don’t think any of us sought it out specifically. It just sort of happened.

    The internet is a weird medium. It gives you a sense of intimacy that isn’t necessarily there. That plus the fact that there one blogger many readers keep track of, and many readers the blogger can’t really keep track of, and it can feel intimate to a reader and a bit remote to the writer.

    I’ve certainly experienced what you’re going through LW–it’s easy to feel like you’re friends with someone you “know” so well online. But we only know what we see of these folks online.

  9. Hahaha, I love that this has become like, 40 percent “don’t sweat it LW, you didn’t do anything wrong, BD is just busy and thinks of you as a cool fan” and 60 percent “OMG JAY SMOOTH”.

    Which, LW, goes to show you that everyone has an inner fangirl/fanboy about something or someone. I’m impressed you had the nerve to show up at the meetup at all! I could never.

  10. This timing could not have been better. I’m going to meet a Local Well-Known Person for coffee later today, in the context of being a fan who blogs about the thing he is well-known for. (It’s possible the fact that I write about it, and that he got in contact BECAUSE I write about it/him, makes me a moderately-known person in my own right, I guess, but one-on-one I very much think of it as me being a fan of him.) Reading this was just a really helpful reminder of how these interactions work from the other side. Thank you!

  11. I can also attest here that if you DO make a total ass out of yourself because the secret fangirlishness inside just bursts out of you, it’s briefly awkward, and then you can just walk away and it is a-okay. This is because you are actually strangers who will most likely never see each other again, and because that happens to the mildly-famous and famous so often that they’ll usually just shake their heads and move along. (As long as it’s, you know, embarrassing but silly fangirl behavior, and not actual creepy boundary pushing.)

    Anyway, ask me about meeting John Hodgman sometime. It’s a story.

          1. That one NEVER gets old – I often randomly out of nowhere find myself remembering that post and laugh my head off. It is pure gloriousness.

  12. There’s this internet guy, I have literally had a crush on him for 20 years (seriously, like since 1992, literally). Now I know I can never meet him because there is no way I could talk to him without being all, like, squee! So, I guess I’m saying I understand.

  13. Whoa! I guess this might seem kind of strange, and I hope I am not adding anymore awkwardness to this situation, but I’ve never had a Captain Awkward post about me!

    I don’t want to give any details about the identity of the person who wrote this about me, but I felt compelled to reach out and assure you that you did absolutely nothing wrong! I was ecstatic about the drawing you made me; it’s actually framed in my room! And I had a fantastic time hanging out with you the day I came to town. Part of the reason I didn’t reach out to you was because I was in Canada when you sent both of your messages to me, so I actually didn’t get them until I returned to AMERICUH.

    But I also wanted to explain to the Cpt. Awkward community a little bit about what this position feels like from my end. I was at the end of a three and a half week tour, had met nearly 2,500 people at this point, had not had a single moment of privacy on that tour (since I did not stay in a hotel alone the whole time, instead choosing to couch surf to save money), and I was terribly homesick because the guy I was dating at the time (HE IS NOW MY BOYFRIEND hhhaaaaayyyyy) was leaving that very day to go on vacation in Europe, so i wasn’t going to see him for eight MORE days after I got back home to California. When I finally did have a moment of rest, I just wanted to be alone. I have pretty severe social anxiety; part of it is that I’m terrified of meeting new people because I have issues with acceptance, so imagine my mental state after having forced myself to meet hundreds upon hundreds of people who are all strangers for week after week, never having a moment alone to myself for almost a month. There were other folks who wanted to hang out with me, and in any other circumstance, I would have. As it was, I just needed time to appreciate being in much more controlled situations, where there wasn’t a giant group of people making me nervous.

    There’s a conversation up above between @jude and @cleolinda (HOLY SHIT, HI CLEOOOOOOOOOO) that really hits the nail on the head. While I do suffer from social anxiety that can get fairly extreme, I am loving the chance to finally be social and friendly with my fans. But at the same time, the dynamic at hand is that Everyone Knows Everything About Me, and I Know Very Little About You. I’m totally okay with this! But I’m not at a point in my life where my fame is background noise at all. It’s still VERY overwhelming all of the time, and I try to navigate it as carefully as possible. Often, that means I do things at my own expense, which usually involves being as nice and accommodating as possible.

    So, Hopefully Not a Fangirl, I apologize if me not reaching out affected your anxiety! If I am ever in Your Town, I would adore the chance to hang out again. You were spectacular, and I could easily see us being friends. Please excuse my rudeness if it came off that way! This is all a very overwhelming thing for me, and sometimes, I need to escape to my own little cave to make it through this experience.

    Thank you! ❤

    Mark (Who Does Stuff)

    1. Oh wow, I DO love the internet sometimes, when this sort of thing happens. 🙂

      And now that I think about it, “Mark Reads” sounds familiar… and with a quick iTunes search, I see you’ve been on at least two Made of Fail podcasts I’ve DL’ed! Small world, and good sorts! 🙂

    2. Um. LW here. This is…strange. I’m a bit embarrassed but glad to see you?

      Mark, I’m so sorry if I made it sound like I thought you were being rude, and even more so if this post made you feel bad or, I don’t know, pressured or something – I was never offended at all; I just assumed you were doing your own thing and, you know, having a life, but I tend to overanalyze. A whole fucking lot. And I also remembered that one really uncomfortable-making racist lady and wanted to be as far away as possible from what she was. This is just me being overly paranoid about how I come off to people, which happens with pretty much everyone I meet.

      Honestly, I’m impressed that you managed to do the tour thing with the social anxiety factor thrown in. I’m not sure I could do it, and you certainly didn’t let it show. What I’m trying to say is I totally understand where you’re coming from on that end, so…yeah. Having a cave to escape to is good.

      Can we agree to nobody feeling bad? Because I like that idea.

      1. “Can we agree to nobody feeling bad? Because I like that idea.”

        I want a T-shirt with this saying on it. And I’d like every nation on earth to adopt this as foreign and domestic policy.

  14. Great post, brother! Reading this makes me realize the times I have crossed over (or maybe just loomed darkly upon) the line between FAN and FREAK…and to all those I freaked, my humble and sincere apologies! Thanks for making the point that the moment is worth savoring of itself, and does not have to lead to a deeper connection…that depth is to be found in the reflection later.

  15. This post actually made me feel loads better, because I am a relatively Well Known Person in a sort of niche field — I’m not like “famous” or anything, but I have enough of a following in a field where people are incredibly passionate. At events related to my field there are a number of people both in my readership and in my professional network who want to meet up, and itoverwhelms me. I often get more email than I can answer.

    Even though it’s been a few years in this role I don’t always cope with it well. I alternate between feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that there are all these people who care about my work, and between feeling incredibly resentful that there are so many strangers that want a part of me. I always feel like it would be great if I could use my platform to mentor people and so I try to be as available as I can stand, but sometimes it’s just too much, and people ask for a lot of things. I have received messages like LWs where they feel terrible for some very small thing they said at a dinner or something, and I feel terrible that they feel terrible.

    Anyway, sometimes the Well Known Person is incredibly anxious and afraid to let you down, too. The way I deal with this is through reminding myself I can only try to be the best I can for them and that I’m not responsible for handling the feelings and needs of individuals unless I want to. Yet I often feel kind of guilty, actually — should I be doing a better job? What if one person was especially vulnerable and me being able to reply to an email or talk a little longer in person would have made a major difference in their lives? I beat myself up over times I was snarky on Twitter in self defense, hoping I didn’t hurt someone.

    Anyway, to LW: It is hard to be in the position of someone who is looked up to by others. But the person you admired in your interaction was probably just so grateful for your appreciation that the LAST thing they were going to do was judge whether you were being awkward or not. CA is right in that we often do need to draw a line to protect ourselves. I feel like we wish we could give thousands of people the lasting connection they wish for, but we don’t have enough bandwidth.

    CA, it was helpful to hear your response that blogger-folks in the “micro-fame” position are not being huge jerks if they draw that line. I struggle with that boundary, so thanks for this.

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