Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ahhhhhhh Look At All The Lonely People.

Where do they all come from?
If my math is correct, Sir Paul McCartney was only 23 years old when he wrote those lyrics. A few months earlier, weeks maybe, he had stood in front of 55,000 people whom he had never met, seen, or had any connection to, and they screamed his name and the names of his friends.

Fifty-five thousand people.

He went home and wrote down what must have been going through his mind about all those lonely people: Where do they all come from? Where do they all belong?

Fandom is a strange phenomenon, and yet it snags most of us at one point or another in our lives. I am no exception--let me shake hands with Lily Allen, and watch me come unglued.

I've learned the technical term for this oddly one-sided audience-to-celebrity connection is Para-social Interaction. I've also learned there is a truckload of scholarly research out there about this very subject, along with an interesting-but-slightly-creepy scale for assessing just how pathological a given fan may be. (Yikes.)

As Chely Wright's fanbase shifts around (and that's conjecture, that her fanbase is shifting), I have to wonder what direction this new para-social interaction will take. Perhaps Chely Wright is being handed an opportunity to cultivate a fanbase not only of all the lonely people, but also of all the fortified and mobilized people listening to cogent and decisive leaders.