You know how “they” (whoever “they” are) say that the things we dislike most in others are the same things we dislike about ourselves? I would agree that statement is partially, but not completely, true. Today, dear friends, I am going to confess, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and sometimes it’s fun to let everyone else know who you know, follow?
Being a writer, I get to interview (and sometimes meet) very cool people, which is can be a very tempting ego booster. When someone cuts you off in traffic, you want to roll down the window and yell, “Hey, you can’t do that to me! I know Kristin Chenoweth!” Of course, I don’t know Kristin Chenoweth, but given her love of God, small dogs, singing, and quirky characters, I know we would get along swimmingly. But I digress.
The whole “who you know” thing is even worse in media circles because everyone is bound to know someone. Sometimes it’s cool to talk about mutual contacts/friends; however, things quickly go south when someone (usually a guy—sorry, boys, it’s true!) enters the conversation talking about all the bands he’s befriended and how he didn’t have to endure the deathly heat at the last music festival because he was living it up on so-and-so’s tour bus. And you had to get pictures from the photo pit in the front? Ha! He was shooting his photos on the stage—with the camera that the lead singer of [enter name of GRAMMY-Award winning Christian band here] bought him as a “thank you” for that great interview. After a minute and a half, I want to punch him in the face.
Not only do I want to punch him in the face, I want to list off every interview, lunch, conversation, and friendship I’ve had with every quasi-famous person, including the time I saw Paul Anka in Vegas and he winked at me. But I don’t. I usually excuse myself, head to the bathroom, and vent my frustration to God (and whoever’s on the other end of my cell phone). It’s very tempting to match name for name, interview for interview, and story for story. However, I believe it’s a misuse of a journalist’s access to interviewees, the backstage, and the world inside.
My training as a counselor taught me the value of an individual life, the sacredness of vulnerability, and the importance of confidentiality. The fact I can sit down with an artist to chat about God and music is a gift—one that cannot and should not be taken for granted. When the interview is complete, I listen to the recording and look through my notes, taking away only the things beneficial to the interviewee. Of course I present the best of that person and I also hope to show a depth of character and vulnerability as well. This is something that is not done lightly, but prayerfully and carefully. I pray before interviews, during interviews, and after interviews for God to keep my heart in check. To be entrusted to tell the story of another is a big task and I ask that God help me with it.
I admit, though, it’s very exciting to meet or talk to an artist who has deeply impacted my life. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t (or don’t) talk about my experiences; I’m saying there’s a fine line between sharing something special and name-dropping. For me, I always think back to my heart’s intent, am I sharing this story because it’s helpful and edifying or because I want to look cool? Are we swapping “war stories” or trying to one-up each other?
When I first started out in journalism at the tender age of 18, I thought name dropping was the way to go! It was a great way to get assignments and move forward in media circles. Ha, I was working my way through college as a freelance writer for major magazines. Then I grew up. God gave me a gift to write, not so I could be glorified, but so He could be glorified. Now I see what I do as a ministry not only to my readers, but to the publicists, promoters, managers, and artists with whom God has allowed me to work (and besides, I am His, which is way cooler than all those moody artists).
And on days when I really need a pick-me-up, I remind myself of this—when I saw Paul Anka perform in Vegas, he winked at me…and just about every other breathing female in the audience.