You don't know me...
By Nancy Carmichael
I don’t like to brag, but well, I know people… who know people.
In fact, one of my good friends was once a stand in for Elizabeth McGovern in the hit 1980’s John Hughes film “She’s Having a Baby”.
(here’s the scene where she stood in… I think!)
You know what this means, don’t you?
It means, my friend, that I am only ONE DEGREE OF SEPARATION FROM KEVIN BACON.
Let the enormity of that sink in for a minute. In the Name Dropper Club, I think that gives me platinum membership status. There’s simply nowhere to go from here. Yep, straight to the top. It’s kind of sad, really, peaking this early in life.
Of course, he’s never heard of me. So I doubt I will be getting my invite to the A-List “She’s Having a Baby” 30th Anniversary Gala next February (whatever). And aside from the pure novelty of it, it’s really just a useless bit of trivia- an AWESOME bit of trivia no doubt, but at the end of the day, it’s not exactly going to open golden doors of opportunity for me.
The truth is, I’m a nobody. And really, I’m (mostly) ok with it. I say mostly, because in many ways that I don’t like to admit, like so many of my contemporaries (but not you, you are much more mature and level headed, of course) I have fallen prey to this pop-cultural conditioning thing whereby everyone nowadays wants to make their mark, have their 15 minutes of fame and milk that 15 minutes into a full blown reality show and book deal. It’s what we do.
Why do we do it? Well, there’s a question.
I think we do it because we want to feel like we have something to offer. We want to be heard. Even if we don’t know what it is we actually want to say (we’ll think of that later), we want someone to listen to us. We want someone to notice us. Appreciate us. Connect with us.
We want to be known.
And the best way to be known in this here day and age, is to assemble a fan club. Am I right? Fans, after all, not only notice us, they tell us how awesome we are. They “like” our social media posts, make us go viral, and get us shout outs on Good Morning America. Who doesn’t want that??? Ok, maybe that sounds too self aggrandizing. We’re not all that narcissistic, are we? It’s not like we want to be worshiped. Maybe just followed? Yeah, that’s it. We want followers.
Followers aren’t so, well, fanatical, but they are interested in our lives: where we go, what we do, what we had for lunch every.day.of.the.last.bless-ed.week. They care. Maybe we’ll never be an international superstar, but followers give us a kind of microcosm celebrity status.
That makes us feel good. And the best part is that we can reap all of the benefits of being followed from the comfort of our own safe little cozy corner of cyberspace. None of the messiness or general unpleasant side effects that come with having to deal with actual, real people.
But followers, though they might genuinely care, don’t really know us. They only know what we want them to know about us. Our carefully crafted, word-smithed, photoshopped, color-filtered (come on, you really expect me to believe all those sun-set pics happened by themselves?) social media posts. Like this one. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for all of the word smithing and image crafting. I get it. Let’s just not get that mixed up with really being KNOWN.
Being known means more than knowing about. I know a lot of facts about Kevin Bacon. I know that Animal House was his first film, I know he enrolled as a high school transfer student named Ren McCormick to prepare for his iconic role in Footlose, and I even know that he has a charitable organization called SixDegrees.org (which you should check out!). But I don’t KNOW him. One key indicator? He doesn’t know ME. Yeah, that puts a damper on the whole Kevin-is-my-BFF-but-he-just-doesn’t-know-it-yet thing. As sad as it makes my one-way heart, to truly know someone is not a one-way street. It’s not about compiling facts. It’s about sharing real life, not just snapshots and soundbytes. It’s about being awkward, taking risks, saying and doing the wrong things sometimes, then having to work at making things right. It’s about sharing your REAL life. And you just can’t do that with followers. You especially can’t do it with fans, because they’re a merciless lot. Once they see who you really are, that’s it, they’re done (don’t believe me, spend 2 minutes on Twitter).
No, you don’t really want fans or even followers. Ok, maybe you do (there’s always one in every crowd…) but if that’s ALL you want… it’s not going to be enough. You need real relationships. Real people. With real skin. Real physical presence. You need to be challenged, even annoyed… and you need to be allowed to be challenging and annoying. It’s all part of the package of being known. Anything less just just won’t do.
Like I said, I’m a nobody. And for the handful of people who I may or may not have some kind of tertiary connection/influence on, a lot of them only know “facebook me”. I’m not saying I’m living a lie or anything (unless you know something I don’t – doh!), but, well, you know what I mean. But there are an even smaller handful… the ones who see me at my best, and worst, and most awkward, and all points in between. They know me, oh how they know me. Sometimes much to my own chagrin. But, to my surprise and delight, they haven’t run me out of town; they still seem to like me. What an utter relief and delight that knowledge is: To be truly known AND loved. Nothing like it in the world.
So take that risk, friend. Let yourself be known. I’m not saying you have to TMI all your dirty laundry all over Facebook (in fact, I highly recommend you do not… not that I have any first hand knowledge of what a bad idea this is… ehem). Not everyone needs to know you that well. But somebody should. Somebody wants to. God comes to mind. Maybe He’s a good place to start. Come on, He knows you anyway – but remember that two way street thing? Yeah, you should get to know Him.
Now, this is not one of those “let Jesus be your best friend to justify your alienation from the rest of the world” pep talks, and if that’s what you get out of this, I’m coming to your house right now. But maybe, just maybe the One who knows you best knows what’s best for you? Maybe He knows how to hook you up with people who would be good for you to know… cause they need to know you. And God knows, you need them.
Let yourself be known.