I am in the process of setting up a Facebook “fan” page for people who want to connect with my work but who I would not consider as “friends” in the sense of regular personal interaction. (I am pretty selective about who I accept as a “friend” on my regular Facebook page.) My point is not a shameless plug for my page, but to point out the differences between “Fans” and “Friends” — and the danger as leaders of confusing the two.
We all have both Fans and Friends in our lives. They sometimes say similar things, but the differences are significant:
- Fans see the public you. Friends may see the public you but also see the private you, the person behind the persona.
- Fans are fickle. Friends stick with you through thick and thin.
- Fans by definition are admirers, providing generous but often uninformed praise. Friends love you enough to say things you might not want to hear.
As a preacher, my husband has many fans. Every week, people come up to him and tell him what a great job he did. I have fans, too: people who like my writing or teaching or whatever snippet of me they’ve experienced. It’s nice to have fans. They can be a source of encouragement. But it’s easy to begin equating their adulation with reality, and so dangerous to rely on them for your self-esteem or for serious counsel in your real life. They just don’t know you that well and their judgment is clouded by their admiration.
I have been reflecting on several situations recently in which ministry leaders I know listened to their fans instead of their friends. They confused the two and bought into their own hype. Their actions damaged their ministries and their personal credibility. But hey, they still have their fans.
How have you seen Fans vs. Friends played out in your own experience? And do you know who is which in your own relationships?
BTW, if you really do want to become a fan of my Facebook page, here’s the link. And thanks.