Childhood and Performance: Forming my Offline Social Network

I’ve not posted a blog in a few weeks.  Normally I’d feel a sense of crushing guilt that I was somehow wasn’t exercising my creativity or the pressure of a wave of anxiety that I was being swamped with my day-to-day work to allow myself to structure my thoughts into writing.   And whilst I have been somewhat busy in the BOTTLE office, it’s not my 9 to 5 that’s been causing my blog silence for the last month.

The last twelve months have been full of change for me in many ways – I’ve changed jobs, I’ve moved to a new town, I’ve lost a dear friend – and I’ve been pulled along in the swells of emotion that goes with all of it.  My job is very social, I work with some very energetic and exciting people, and I spend my day building relationships online, but even still, I’ve felt very isolated and strangely static. So at the end of last month I decided to make a change.

It might sound a little cliché, but four weeks ago I decided that it was time to become more proactive and to shake off this ‘comfortable’ funk that I’d settled into.  So instead of spending my weekends padding around in my PJs drinking endless cups of tea, I decided to push my boundaries.

Me, age 4, preforming in the school Christmas play

When I was a littlun’ I loved performing.  I remember standing up in my grandparents’ living room serenading my family with ballads and writing plays with my friends.  My love of theatre translated into a Drama GCSE, and then a few years later an A level in Drama and Theatre Arts.  However for whatever reason when I went to University that part of my life was retired, and the closest I got to performance was karaoke on a Thursday night after the student pub quiz…  So, when I decided that I needed to shake up my outlook, I couldn’t think of anything better than to revisit my childhood passion.

Having not performed in any form for at least 5 years, and having the grace and coordination of a fairy elephant, I decided to dive in head first and turned up at a rehearsal for an amateur production of Jesus Christ Superstar.  And it really was the best thing I could have done.

I fully meant to work backstage, maybe helping with costume changes and organising props, or possibly front of house selling programmes and taking tickets, but somehow, just two weeks before opening night I ended up being pulled into the scenes, my photo was taken for the programmes I thought I’d be selling, and I was absorbed into the cast.

The WYSPAs cast of Jesus Christ Superstar 2011 (I'm the second angel on the left!)

So the reason for my lack of blog over the past few weeks has been down to my frantic swotting over the Really Useful Group score, attending rehearsal, organising PR for the show, and finally performing four nights of Jesus Christ Superstar – and I’ve loved every second.

It’s been like a wake up call. I have experienced a lot of change in the last year and have been using the social web as an anchor on this fluctuating tide, but being reacquainted with my childhood hobby has given me a new appreciation for the psychology of the social web and how I build relationships online.

We engage in behaviour in our online social networks which is unlike any behaviour that we would conduct in our offline social lives.  Ultimately we’re being constrained by the limitations of each network, and we’re being forced into whatever template we’re given to interact within and to therefore build our relationships around.

So if relationships spend their childhood online, (whether these relationships are between individuals or between brands and fans) they ultimately need to be given a connection to the offline world.  It can only make them stronger.

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