Weird Responses to Richard Armitage Post

Reactions to my blog post about Richard Armitage caught me off-guard in good and bad ways. Ladies who attended the Social Media Dames Un-conference will recall my brief presentation on the value of good content, even when it’s about a celebrity crush. I ran out of time to walk about the weird and unexpected responses I got from others.

Loving Richard Armitage

The second Hobbit movie, the Desolation of Smaug, comes out Friday. Richard Armitage plays Thorin Oakenshield, the leader and King of the dwarves. An immensely popular actor in the UK, the Hobbit movies introduce him to a global audience. I learned about him through my addiction to BBC TV shows and Netflix recommendations. I highly recommend the BBC version of Robin Hood and the mini-series North and South.

I am old enough that I am not quite a digital native. An early lover of the internet (anyone remember Live Journal?), I drifted away and missed the explosion of user generated content that has unfolded over the last 10 years. I discovered what I had missed as I began indulging my crush and seeking out all things Richard. I learned about his devoted fan following, the Armitage Army. I read fan fiction, watched endless YouTube clips, and learned how to navigate Tumblr. In the process, I started thinking about how all of the fan attention might help or hurt his image as a celebrity.

What Happened

My original post was a reflection of these musings. In an image conscious world, how does fan-generated content impact the celebrity? Are there types of content that impact the human dignity of the person? Does it matter? I dedicated my thoughts about these questions to the Army, out of respect. In fact, the questions were in part inspired by threads of fans having this conversation amongst themselves.

As I always do, I threw out a few tweets about the post, hoping that a few people might read and enjoy the post. And here’s where the weirdness came in. I never predicted the response. Some people left comments that were more in-depth and thoughtful than my original post. Others declared they felt judged. On twitter, I was accused of writing the post simply to draw attention to my business (what, you write posts hoping no one will read them?). Some appeared to believe the dedication the Army was meant as an insult. A few made snap decisions about who I was because of who I interacted with on twitter.

Internet (Mis)communication

I encountered the weirdness of online (mis)communication. Which reminded me of why I drifted away from the internet in the first place. It reminds me of when I work with clients, especially families, and parents are worried about how much time their child spends “online.” The truth is the internet is not all that different from the real world, except in two major ways (as far as I can tell).

1) You have to put yourself out there. Lurking online won’t lead to much interaction or relationship building. You have to risk saying something real and unintentionally offending someone.

2) Lack of non-verbal communication. In phone or face to face communication, we use tone of voice and body language to clarify what the speaker intends. Online, we use only the words themselves. In some cases, this reality forces us to choose our words accurately. In other cases, it leads to judgment and misunderstanding.

What do you think are the major differences between online and other forms of communication? Do you do anything to proactively manage responses or clarify your intent?