I make a habit out of NOT wanting to know anything about people that make things I like - be it an artist, author, actor, or whoever. Knowing their name so I can find other nice things by them is sufficient for my needs, I would rather not know if they are complete jerks, have horrible opinions, if that handsome actor is a wifebeater or, for that sake, happily married with six kids. Knowing an artist has views I cannot agree with (or are plain stupid, does bad things, w/e) can possibly ruin the joy I take in their work, and to keep my good feelings I prefer staying ignorant. I will stretch that policy to allowing myself to visit artists' homepages looking for information about their next release, tour, exhib, but I try to avoid getting any personal information and I hate the gossipy media (not that they usually publish info on anyone I am interested in).
Thus, when I recently was checking for information about any new books from one of my favourite authors and I found this on her blog, I was very relieved to find she is a really nice person with sensible views of the world, a good sense of humour, and respect for her readers. I can continue enjoying her work without any bad memories or associations attached! However - now I am reading her blog, as a side effect of her being so nice and smart. Which is all to the good, nothing wrong with that, I read alot of blogs of alot of nice and smart people all across the world. But it made me think about some issues I found I had with posting comments on her blog - I am normally an active commenter but I found myself unusually reticient and I started wondering why. Part of the answer I found in a post there while I was reading the backlog, most of it came from my own head.
Anybody that lives in a city of some reasonable size will run some risk of at some point or other encountering someone they know - not through personal contact but because they have seen their face in media. Chance is they won't really care about this person and the majority of people will pretend nothing is out of the ordinary, or come with a casual greeting to a face they recognize but haven't yet identified (as a sidenote, I have noted that the tillers at my local supermarket elicit that reaction too if I meet them in a different context - I am convinced I know them but can't place them. Embarrassing situations arise...).
Sometimes however, you might happen to meet someone whose work you know very well, a person you admire. Then you get the choice between pretending like nothing or approach them. Alot of people I know, including myself (this is a clue!), would probably pretend like nothing here, either being too shy or assuming the person would be really weary of random hello-ers.
This situation also arises online with artists interacting with their fans. The difference with the online variety of this situation is that because text is more impersonal than a face-to-face encounter the threshold of interaction is also lower, everything is slightly more easy and relaxed. However: You are talking to a person who you have some knowledge of, maybe feel you know in some way, but the person has no clue who you are. You admire this person and would want the person to like you. So do you behave like your normal self, or do you try to say things that will catch the person's attention and make them approve of you?
Anyway I got stuck in the limelight of my self-examination on this point.
Why am I posting this comment, do I have anything to add to the discussion, or am I just trying to ingratiate myself with X? The mere question, consciously or subconsciously asked, makes me not post. I don't want to go over the top. Thus I comment less, become shyer.
Today at the metro while writing I was pondering and trying to view my behaviour normally objectively. And I think that I tend to comment without much worry whenever I have a comment to make to something on the blogs I frequent, not really worrying about whether people like me or not but as always trying to be nice and hoping I can bring some happiness or a smile to one or more persons. So my conclusion is that it is mere paranoia/shyness and the same reason I wouldn't talk to any kind of celebrity I admire if I met them in the bookshop or at the supermarket or in the park. I don't want to DISplease the person so I play safe by not attracting attention (and I wouldn't want to be seen as trying to ingratiate myself, now would I!). And so it spirals.
Most bloggers I know love getting comments and discussing with their readers, it is the attraction of the blog-concept. So it is probably a shame I go shy with some people. I will try to worry less and just be myself in the future now that I have realised this - and having gone so public with my thoughts, I have to follow it too.
This little thing doesn't really have a conclusion beyond that, I guess.
How would (or do) you act around people (with more or less celebrity status) you admire who doesn't know you?