Common Sense (Or “How to Be a Music Fan on Social Media”).

As a professionally amateur music blogger, I would say that most of the people I follow on Twitter have something to do with music, be that as a performer, a label, or a fan. Most of the time, this allows for a lot of interesting discussion, debate, excitement, and enticement. The Internet is very liberating when it comes to expressing yourself and following your interests. But oh. Oh, the pitfalls.

I was inspired to write this today when someone I follow (a manager, not a celebrity) asked for movie recommendations out of three possible choices. He settled upon viewing one. Someone didn’t like that, so rather than, I don’t know, taking a breath or doing something else productive, replied to him, “whatever kill yourself you retarded lard.” I’m not naming names or including links because I don’t want to give her more attention. When people started to respond to that aggression, she took two paths: being proud that she’d been noticed and being indignant that her “joke” was misunderstood. Maybe since I’m on the downward slope to 28, I no longer understand “the kids” and how they communicate with aggression even regarding people they’ve never met and whom they supposedly admire. Maybe the more popular celebrities are, the more likely these really weird messages. Have no fear, I have suggestions that will help you look like a saner fan in five easy steps.

1. Don’t use hate language. Why does this even have to be said? It’s the online equivalent of throwing rocks at your dad’s motorcycle or chopping off all your sister’s hair while she sleeps to get attention. Being noticed is a reward in itself, right? Um, no. Bullying is ugly and disgusting, and when you make “jokes” like telling, say, Groot to kill himself, Groot isn’t going to like that very much. Chances are Groot won’t reply to you over it (since his vocabulary is limited to “I am Groot” and all), but you might catch the eye of someone on a smaller scale or incite other fans to get upset. It’s just stupid. If a teacher assigned you homework you didn’t like, would you tell him or her to go die? No, because there are consequences. You don’t think about consequences online, but you should. Spoiler alert: You’re not going to be One Direction’s new best friend by being a dick to them online. Also, white people? STOP USING ANY VARIANT OF THE “N” WORD. You know what I’m talking about. I see teenagers banter with it on social media all the time. It’s not cute or ironic or reclaiming a word. Just shut the fuck up.

2. Don’t “COME TO (INSERT COUNTRY HERE).” You know what’s incredible about tours? The fact that they are scheduled months in advance because venues, equipment, crew, and more must be arranged in order for everything to work. When you shriek about being denied tour dates, what you’re saying is basically, “I have no interest in what you’re doing right now. Mememememe. You don’t matter to me unless you’re in front of me so I can try to steal the shirt off your back.” Try to imagine having a conversation with someone like yourself. (All examples are chosen at random, and I have nothing against people in said regions.)

Friend: Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet?
You: COME OT ARGENTINA!
Friend: What does that have to do with anything?
You: WE LUV YUO IN MILAAAAAN!
Friend: That’s not even spelled right.
You: IF YOU DON’T PLAY IN LONDON AND MAKE IT ALL AGES ILL KILL YOUR GF’S DOG.

And so on. Going directly to the source isn’t going to get you jack shit unless they specifically ask you where they should do something like busk or if they decide to have a social media Q&A session. I understand your pain, I do. I grew up in West Virginia. Do you know who toured in my town when I was a kid? 98 Degrees. That is it. Did I see any concerts as a teen? Not until college. Now I sometimes get to go to shows for free! You can live the dream one day. Be patient and stop using your location as a greeting.

3. Don’t spam. I don’t know how this started to get popular. Is it because of trending topics? Maybe I should blame hashtags. Mostly, I blame people. If you set up a separate Twitter account simply to bombard someone else, you are a Grade A asshole. There’s really not wiggle room here. Celebrities do not have the time to read every single tweet/message/smoke signal. They might not ever answer, or they might just answer a select few. Resist the urge to just send out a constant stream of the same fucking thing in order to be seen. Your idol will not think Wow, I simply admire this person’s tenacity and adoration! They will think something more along the lines of Haven’t I seen this before? This is annoying or I’m getting way too many messages. Fuck this. I’m going to go be famous now with other famous people. You screw over others and yourself, and you’re the one left looking stupid.

4. Don’t ask them to follow you. This is such a weird, modern bragging right of sorts. As far as I can understand, the more famous a person is, the more elite it is to be followed by them. Beeeecause why? They might see your embarrassing, hysterical tweets of ‘hOGM TAY LOR IS TWET ING IRHT NOW!” (You should really not act like that either, for what it’s worth, but I know that I don’t have enough brain bleach to go around.) Despite infinitesimal chances of mere plebs being followed by the stars, people still ask for this. People who are followed offer to spam the inboxes of the mighty with lists of more people they ought to follow. (Does that ever even work?) Twitter or Facebook will never make them leapfrog into your actual, personal social circle. It translates to nothing of substance outside the screen. Let it happen if you are a magnet of awesome, but don’t ask for it. You are not distinguishing yourself as worthy if you have to beg.

5. Don’t be fucking creepy. I thought I’d end on a note as obvious as my first. Sometimes people have good intentions. Misguided ones, good ultimately good. They find inspiration in a person’s writing. It changed/saved/brought meaning to their life. In return, they just want to share a bit of this changed/saved/meaningful life with the person who made all this possible. And so every tweet tags a musician and is directed to them like a protracted poem of longing. Here I am in Florida, and I am without you, Fabio. Look at this bacon, Lou Bega, for it reminds me of your smile (yes it does!). Tapping into who I really am. Corsets rox. Thx 4 the confidence B*witched! On the one hand, it’s a little oblivious and sad, but on the other, we really should know better. Responding to posts in a topical manner is great and encouraged! Interact to your heart’s delight. The occasional quip thrown their way or even a heartfelt message can be fantastic. Just don’t make your online life all about one person/group and one person/group only. It’s like standing outside someone’s window and drawing pictures in the condensation left behind by your breath. Friends, no one likes a mouth breather. Just think, okay?

Now, friends, you are a bit more socially aware! Go forth and tweet smarter, or stay brilliant if you already are. Just don’t direct any hate at me, particularly if you aren’t able to embrace your backspace or shift keys.

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An Open Letter to Brad “Accidental Racist” Paisley.

Dear Brad (Can I call you “Brad,” Brad?):

You don’t know me, but I know plenty about you. Few of us at John Marshall High School during the early noughties could take a class with Mrs. Brinkman without her gushing about “Brad,” no last name necessary. I know plenty of people who think of you like a Glen Dale version of Elvis in a cowboy hat. Your folksy, po’ Southern boy style is representative of many people from the area, and I won’t pretend differently even though we’re from above the Mason-Dixon line and our state separated from Virginia to remain part of the Union during the Civil War.

But man, you’ve made us all look like idiots with your song “Accidental Racist.”

On the surface of things, I can respect your intentions. You set out to show that your “Southern pride” is not meant to be oppressive to African-Americans, so when you wear the Confederate flag, you are not making a statement about the Civil War. You even have a Yankee rapper on the track to back you up! You hash things out! You can’t be racist because you have at least one token black friend. You can see how this is getting complicated already.

I don’t think that it escaped your attention growing up that our school was extremely white. Being “Southern” and waving that ridiculous flag meant you were anti-establishment and proud of being a redneck, not part of the Navy that briefly used said design for a couple of years during the Civil War. In an insular white community, maybe that makes sense in some distorted fashion. But you draw an international audience now. Maybe you could like “The South” on Facebook or take any other stance besides defending and reclaiming a flag so loaded with negative connotations. That flag doesn’t stand for being a redneck, four-wheeling, hunting, fishing, and having cheap beers with your buddies at the mud bogs. It was used by people engaging in open treason against their country, and the richest were the ones with the most to gain or lose. That “most” includes slaves, people as property. You must realize that symbols hold the meaning ascribed to them by people. For instance, the swastika is a type of cross, but no one would dare defend that as a symbol of peace today. The views on good and evil from the Civil War are not so clear, it would seem, but that flag has a blood-soaked legacy.

But you don’t need a history lesson. Even though you’re a millionaire living the dream, I will pretend that you are defending the “redneck” way of life with pride. You’re “proud of where [you’re] from but not everything we’ve done” (even though West Virginia was in the Union, la la la). The major problem with this song, surprisingly, is when you let LL Cool J enter the discussion. I think everyone can agree that people of all backgrounds can harbor racist tendencies, and we all make unfair shortcuts based on what we see because we can’t be bothered to get to know everyone’s inner secrets. Mr. Cool James defends his right to wear gold chains, saggy pants, and a do-rag without being thought of as a thug, but then he reaches an epiphany that he too is judging you for your white cowboy hat and ridiculous flag t-shirt. “I guess we’re both guilty of judgin’ the cover not the book,” he says. This is absurdly stupid.

Chains, low-slung jeans, and do-rags are not symbols. A cowboy hat is not a symbol. If you look at someone in a cowboy hat and think he’s a racist because of that item of clothing, you’re being a lazy asshole. If you look at someone who wears a do-rag and assume he’s a criminal, then yes, you are a goddamn racist. You don’t get to pick and choose which aspects of Southern history you’re representing with the so-called rebel flag because even though the region is rich with so much culture worth celebrating, you aren’t saying you’re proud of Southerners like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks. Racism has extended far past the abolition of slavery, and that continued prejudice is hardly just paranoia over white dudes just wanting to watch NASCAR and give ‘er dun. Brad, your lyrics indicate that you’re proud of the region, not its role in the Civil War. Why then must LL Cool J, a “black Yankee” of his own admission, actually say the words “RIP Robert E. Lee”? LL forgives you for wearing your shirt, you never meant any harm, and everyone walks away happy. Who wins here?

Between you and me, Brad, here’s a hint: the problem isn’t a grudge we Yankees hold from the Civil War. I appreciate that you want to open a dialogue and help mend fences, but the problem goes much deeper than you being shocked anyone was offended by your clothing. If you want to distance yourself from racist connotations, I’d be more than happy to buy you a new t-shirt.

Yours in Monarch Pride,
Casey Hicks, salutatorian, Class of ’04
(All opinions are my own, and I have no connection to the school beyond my diploma)

P.S. – The flag you celebrate was banned at John Marshall at one point in time. I’m not sure if the policy still stands, but when singing about where you’re from, that’s a valuable bit of information.
P.P.S. – You should listen to more rap/rock. Even Limp Bizkit could balance singing and rapping better than your tune does, and that’s just sad.

In Defense of Taylor Swift

Disclaimer: If the only thing you enjoy more than mocking Taylor Swift is being right, do not read this post. It will only compel you to a) attempt to correct me, b) go into a homicidal rage, or c) have a medical condition flare up to such severe results that were you to survive, you would sue the shit out of me. If you are one of these people, I genuinely do not give a fuck about your opinions other than the fact that you are giving me repetitive motion injury from rolling my eyes at your holier than thou attitude.

At last, it has come to this. I have had this idea kicking around in my head for weeks, talking myself down from blogging because I do not want to be That Person. But I’ve done some soul searching. I’ve chewed my nails over it. I’ve visited Tumblr for some distraction only to see the same tedious shit reblogged again and again, and I’ve discovered that yes, I am That Person. So here we are. This is my Chris Crocker moment. LEAVE TAYLOR SWIFT ALONE.

There are a lot of reasons to dislike female celebrities. In the case of someone like Ms. Swift for instance, you might argue that hearing her over the speaker at Duane Reade/Walgreens and running into an aisle of her merchandise when you really just need to get some tampons like right now is the pinnacle of overexposure. (To this, I merely whisper, “Beyonce,” drop my microphone, and vanish from the Internet.) Maybe you don’t like her music because you’re just not into that countryish/young girl/pop kind of thing. That’s totally valid, unless you hate all female singers because it’s just how you are, in which case what you are is an asshole. Maybe you don’t know who she is, but you can’t check her out now because she’s already exposed, so the hipster in you just has to rebel against what is popular. (If this is the case, just get your kumbacha and leave.) But this is the point I am trying to make: if you dislike a celebrity, 99% of the time, it should be due to that person’s WORK, not their personal life. Here are the most popular reasons I have seen for disliking Taylor Swift, followed by my rebuttals.

All she ever does is write about her love life!

Wow, that’s incredible! No other musician has ever thought about writing about the trials and tribulations of love ever, and no wonder since it’s obnoxious! Except, oh wait, pretty much everyone does it. You don’t really hear this argument about male musicians, so it is a bit sexist. My favorite band is Snow Patrol, and I’ll be the first to admit that a solid 90% of their songs are about Gary Lightbody’s former relationships. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, a quick Google tells me that The Beatles, arguably the biggest band of all time, used the word “love” 613 times in their music. Next?

But she writes about her relationships! And she has so many of them! It’s slutty but her image isn’t slutty so she’s just really, really fake!

Okay, since when does someone’s musical talent hinge upon the number of notches in their belt? It’s gotten to the point where she can just make eye contact with a man and supposedly be head over heels in love with them according to the press. She’s had a lot of public romances, but that happens when you get famous young and are constantly stalked by the press. These things also flame out quickly for who knows what reasons (said stalking, busy schedules, the relationship fizzling out because God knows why). She’s been under the glaring eye of public scrutiny since she was a teenager, and she’s still very young now. How would she have much else to write about? Also, it’s not like she names names most of the time (and if you take issue with “Dear John” calling out the human slime that is John Mayer, we have a problem, friend). I’ve seen the same newspaper (hint: it rhymes with Daily Fail) claim “I Knew You Were Trouble” is about John Mayer and then Harry Styles, no question, just fact. Duh. Plus are we seriously slut-shaming someone for dating?

Also, she has pretty bad taste. Stop applauding Harry Styles for being classy about their breakup and read up on how he broke up a marriage. No offense to the guy, he has a sense of humor about himself, but being younger doesn’t mean he’s squeaky clean.

Whatever. When you come to your senses, she’ll write a song dissing you too. But she’s still really fake.

I really don’t get this “fake” argument that we unleash on things we don’t like. There’s a huge layer of artifice involved when a celebrity tries to present his or her life for an audience. You become your own brand. I’m going to try to comprehend this though. She’s fake because she acts surprised to win awards? Because she keeps her image pretty tame? Because she talks about hunting for antiques rather than getting stoned? Okay. Pretty much everyone pretends to be surprised to win an award. I’d rather read about antiques than see another pop star getting her tits out, and how the hell does Rihanna not get arrested when there is so much evidence that she’s smoking pot pretty much all the time? We live in a weird society now where it seems we can only like one sort of female pop star, and we have to tear the rest down. Most of the people I know who insult Taylor Swift as “fake” are huge fans of Beyonce. I could explain the irony here, but I’ll just let it stand for itself. At least Taylor Swift doesn’t make up the majority of her writing credits.

I don’t like her face. She’s squinty.

Oh my God, shut up.

I could go on, but I’ve exhausted my brain trying to think of where the hate comes from. You know who’s talking about Taylor Swift all the time? You ,the people who hate her. So get over it and hate on Syria or something, because you’re petty as hell.

Fanifesto: 10 Ways to Fill the Gap Between Concerts.

Traditionally, the winter months aren’t known for their concerts. Travel across some countries is difficult at best when you’re hauling equipment, people hate standing outside in line in the bitter cold, and musicians sometimes go crazy and want to spend time with their families or creating new material. What bullshit, right? Well, you don’t have to go through the agony alone. Here are ten suggestions for beating the SAD (seasonal affected disorder) feels (feelings).

1. Relive the magic through denial. Turn out the lights and put on a DVD or a really nice quality YouTube video if you can manage it. If you only have audio available, try standing in another room so you can tell yourself that your view’s just obscured. It’s just like the real thing but without the late asshole trying to squeeze in front of you.

2. Write fan fiction. If those artists won’t come to you, then you’ll just have to make them. You know, through the written word. The find and replace option on word processing software means that you can even publish your work if the quality’s great enough without having to worry about being sued. Even if it’s really terrible quality, just throw in a lot of sex and it’ll sell. I mean, look at 50 Shades of Grey. (Please don’t really look at it. That’s just a saying.)

3. Binge watch television shows. Chances are your favorite artists have been played as soundtrack music on a show before. If House has one episode with a great musical moment, then chances are that there must be one other episode that has a similar high, right? The only way to find out is to watch every. Single. Episode.

4. Edit your old photos. Sure, you uploaded 200 photos to Facebook as soon as you got home from the gig, but did you consider applying a filter? Crop out everyone else’s hands as they reach for your man! (Stupid sluts.) There must be a way to improve things.

5. Stand outside for five hours with minimal supplies. You don’t want to be off your game just because nobody great is touring. Having nobody to hold your spot in the imaginary line will just make you that much more hardcore. If you need motivation, camp out in front of a store and wait for it to open. May I suggest a local record store?

6. Jump up and down and scream. For hours. Look, the worst feeling in the world is going to a gig and having your legs defy the magical dance party going on within your ears. Keep those legs and lungs fighting fit! You might also want to throw some elbows in case you expect someone to be pushy at your next show.

7. Check out local artists. Of course they’re not going to be as great as what you’re used to, as you tell yourself in your biased mind, but you might be able to brag in a few years about how you saw them for the cost of the beer you drank. You can also convert their fans to your superior obsessions!

8. Set up a fan page. I mean, who cares if everyone’s seen the same photos over and over again? On Tumblr, all you have to do is embed it and then post. Watch it get reblogged without citation! Also, it’s totally cool to steal photos and then put them on Facebook unsourced. You look like the hero and don’t have to share the credit. Watch them bow down to you, and try to ignore how much they want your future husband since you already know what your future looks like. Be sure to tell them about it!

9. Use all the money you’re saving and apply it to something else. You could pay off your credit card debt, but that’s boring. Why don’t you buy the same instruments your favorite artists use, then learn how to play their songs? Someone could get injured at some point. They might need you. You wouldn’t let them down, would you? This could delay touring further.

10. Make some new friends. Haha, no. They don’t get it.

Concert Etiquette: The Queue.

Between bits of fiction, I’ll take a bit of time to exploit my domain and rant, generally about music. I’m winding down from five concerts in two weeks, so there’s a lot to critique. Of course, the queue (as many of us with European inclinations tend to call it) or the line is the logical place to start. So, here are ten simple tips for a pleasant (mostly general admission) queuing process.

 
1. Know what you’re getting into. Personally, I’ve never attended a U2 concert, but those fans live amongst the anointed few in their legendary dedication. If you’re waiting outside for a long time, you’re going to want to figure out where you can go for food, drink, and the inevitable emptying of the bladder. If you’re going to a coffee shop or a bar, throwing in a tip for use the bathroom is a nice gesture, particularly if you don’t buy anything. Wear reasonable shoes. Wear comfortable clothes that fit the weather. Don’t be that dehydrated, starving girl teetering on stilettos, trying to keep your skirt down while the wind blows. Unless you’re there for me to mock, of course.

2. Make friends or use the buddy system, but don’t be rude. Look, I’ve got a day job. I know that I can’t always be there for five hours waiting for the doors to open. Most of the time if the show’s important to me, a friend is willing to be there a long time and then let me jump line. I don’t do that to be an asshole to the other diehards; I just have to make the money so I can afford to be at the gig at all. I hold spots too. Many people do. For a couple of people, that’s cool. If you’re waiting for your high school reunion to join you in that very spot, you are an asshole.

3. Save your bragging for the Internet. Reciting facts that you know about the band is boring. If you’ve seen then for the past ten years, good for you. Sometimes you have significant milestones that are genuinely worth the conversation. I was at a gig this year where it was someone’s 50th show for that artist, and that was a pretty cool deal. We were all happy for her. Fast forward to the next week. Same artist, different city, different girl seeing them for the 50th time. She thought this meant she deserved to be first in the queue, even though she didn’t get there first. Not so cool. Be open and friendly, not just trying to outdo others.

4. If you think you might get a chance to be sneaky, you won’t. Don’t try to start a queue on the other side of the door, squeeze through to look at a poster (just to stay there), ask a question and then loiter with your new friends who don’t want you. Show up when you wish, but take responsibility for it and don’t try to dick others over. People get very angry about these things.

5. Nobody likes it when you ask really stupid questions. Often there are all sorts of incredible facts printed on your ticket. Set times and when doors open are generally right there! Sometimes the support acts are listed! Hallelujah, praise the lord! So there’s usually no reason to go up to the guy at the door and confirm the veracity of that very item that gets you into the show in the first place. Bonus round: if you want to know if there are tickets still available, buy your tickets first. It’s really magical.

6. Nobody wants to hear about your hypothetical tryst with a band member. Look, the ’80s are over. Nobody’s denying that rockstars will take advantage of fans sometimes, but unless you’re kind of slutty, extremely good looking, and actually manage to get two seconds alone to enact your plan of seduction, it’s not going to happen. I don’t care what position you picture “your boy” doing with you from the Kama Sutra. Chances are he doesn’t either. Keep that 50 Shades of Grey shit in your imagination since surprisingly (or not), 99% of the time I hear those thoughts spoken aloud, they come from people far too young or too old to be with the musician in question.

7. You don’t “deserve” to be at any spot in the queue. I don’t want to hear you say that you should skip in front of me because you are: too short, seeing the artist for the first time, going through some shit right now, their BIGGEST fan, running late, not feeling well and needing to lean on the rail, or my personal favorite, just there for the opener and will leave right after they’re off the stage. Everyone gets a fair shake. This is war. Put on your combat gear and take responsibility for where you wind up. And if you shove your way forward during the show because you didn’t get the place in line you wanted, I will stop on your foot with my boots.

8. Don’t show up wasted. Come on. I know that sometimes you have to kill time at the bar or in a drinking establishment, or there’s a bar before doors open to give you their “happy hour” price of only $7 for a weak drink. I’m not opposed to the alcohol, but if it’s 4 pm and you’re drunk, you should know things about yourself. First of all, everyone can smell it and see it and hear it. You are that drunk person going HAW HAW HAW with your bloodshot eyes and wobbly steps as you quote songs and think you are HILAAAARIOUS. You’re going to need to pee (don’t break the seal omg!1111). You’re going to get thirsty. Worst of all, unless you keep going back to the bar, you’re going to sober up. So don’t be that obnoxious person.

9. Take it easy on the social media. Most of us have smart phones now. They’re pretty neat, I guess. You can snap some photos, tweet if you’re alone, check your email, act like you’re not sitting outside in 20 degree weather for five hours because you really need to get up close to the stage. Just don’t overdo it. Instagram is basically ruining the world because if I see one more photo that’s artfully blurred around the edges and tinted and is supposed to show me a marquee, I’ll fucking scream. Also, if you’re tweeting or facebooking or whatevering about how you see the band around the corner, omg soundcheck, omg they just walked past omg omg they smell like apples and eternal satisfaction, we can never be friends.

10. Be happy. You made it to the show! Nothing is dumber than getting all pissed off because you are in the second row rather than the first or stage left rather than dead center. Music is about your ears, not your eyes. Be grateful and be good to one another. It’s not a competition, it’s a treat for yourself. Fucking enjoy it, okay?

Blog: The Fanifesto

It’s all Patrick Monahan’s fault.

I’m not saying that music failed to make people crazy before Train came along; Beatlemania was a bit more intense than anyone’s response to a guy in sparkly pants. However, Monahan has something that The Beatles didn’t (besides sparkly pants): a story that inspires non-fans. According to frantically reblogged posts on Tumblr, Monahan was performing onstage when he spotted a beautiful woman in the audience. He knew that he had to meet her after the show. She became his wife.

The barrier was breached. The Force was disturbed. Rockstars became attainable, fans became attractive, and it didn’t matter if you were married and a grandmother, you still had a shot to get with your favorite performer, not just for sex but for keeps.

I’m a big music fan. I participate in a forum or two online, go to a lot of shows, write reviews, and so on. Because I have eyes and a functioning brain, I see a lot of disturbing behavior. Stuff that goes beyond the fun and fluffy. Stuff that makes you wonder if someone’s really annoying or really unbalanced. So, before the next gig where you’re boosting your cleavage because dreams do come true!11111, think back to this fandom manifesto (fanifesto, because I love me a good portmanteau). Remember, I only tell you this because I love you and don’t want you to be hurt when that asshole steps out with some actress slut who has stolen your man.

Musicians owe you nothing beyond music, so act accordingly. By definition, a musician makes music. You can check a dictionary if you don’t believe me. Nowhere in the dictionary will you see that the musician signs autographs, takes photos, spells your name properly, responds to every tweet you and you alone send his/her way, stares deeply into your soul, or proposes marriage. Many performers are generous enough to give their fans the time of day and form a connection, but it’s not an obligation. Your life will not be shattered if s/he doesn’t answer you on Twitter or Facebook. Also, keep it fun. If they’ve sold millions of records or live in another country and would never tour near you, offering to house them, feed them, clothe them and stroke their hair is not generous, it’s just fucking creepy.

There are not better or worse fans, just different fans. Look, my favorite band has held that position for eight years. I’m tempted to throw out a Z snap and a neck swivel when someone who only got into them a couple of years ago thinks they’re a bigger fan because they’ve bought more concert tickets and merch without having read that obscure 2005 interview I’ve committed to memory. But it’s childish! Be happy that your favorites have enough money to still make music without becoming jaded over the music industry (I’ll save my rant on that for a different time).

There is one exception here: the condescending fan. They are worse fans because they alienate and put others down. It’s not about the music anymore, it’s about them and their own egos. Just because you turn up at every date of a tour doesn’t mean you get the bonus of becoming a friend of the band. If you’re cool and it happens that way, that’s nice, but recognize that not everyone has that much free time/money/childcare/ability to endure repetition. Be humble and polite. I’ve met so many friends at gigs, and we introduce each other to new music all the time without having to brag about how long we’ve listened to so-and-so. If your only goal is to be a lifelong fixture in the band’s life beyond the music, check yourself. If you have to say, “Please don’t think I’m creepy,” then surprise, you’re probably being creepy. Turn that Z snap and neck swivel on yourself.

Know and embrace barriers. Ah, we’ve all heard the tales of rockstars signing tits and loving every second of it, but unless you’re on ecstasy, that’s probably not appropriate at a Coldplay concert. If there’s any doubt, just ask. Good approach: “Can I please get a hug? I’m just so excited to meet you!” Bad approach: “Nice shoes, wanna fuck?” If you see the musician in the wild, be polite when approaching. Remember the first rule, they owe you nothing. If a musician comes up to the barrier or crowdsurfs at a gig, you’ll be crushed forward enough that you will inevitably touch that sweaty demigod. That does not give you permission to grope. It’s inevitable that some people will do it, but when was the last time a stranger squeezed your ass in public that you really loved? Bosoms are not squeeze toys, and guess what, neither are crotches. Congratulations, you’ve cupped his balls. So has his doctor, and he paid for that. Who gets the better deal?

Live a life outside. On the internet, everything is more dramatic. You are literally dying if you don’t get tickets to a show. You are suicidally depressed because nobody’s on Twitter at the same time you are. Don’t anchor all your hopes and dreams to one band or musician. Your Tumblr handle isn’t printed on your forehead (if you have that tattoo, I don’t want to know you), and nobody can figure out your all important post count by looking at you. To be all pop psychologist, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment because what you need isn’t something that can be provided by someone else. Personal acceptance comes first, and you’re not doing anyone any good if you’re living a minimal life because Fernando from The Greatest Band ever is going to be playing in town in 93 days and you’re convinced that it will be the last time you see home before you step onto that gleaming steel chariot, never to return again. There’s loving a band, there’s obsessing, and then there is flat out stalking. If you’re not sure if you’re stalking, ask someone. You probably are stalking, let’s make that clear, but at least the stranger will be more inclined to alert the authorities.

There’s so much more to say, but I’ve rambled enough already. If you find yourself offended, pause a moment: are you pissed off because I’m an inferior fan of music who is jealous of your wealth/beauty/close personal friendship with “the lads,” or are you defensive because you see yourself in this? Real talk.