this weekend, at our convention in argentina, i’ve been reminded of my love/hate relationship with being known by people i don’t know.
in my normal, everyday, walking about town life, no one knows who i am. the people i work with are anything but impressed by me — they know me. they know what a dork i am.
at our conventions in the states, in our tiny little world of youth ministry, there’s a certain amount of “hey, you’re marko” that comes with the turf of being on stage and such.
but here in latin america, where celebrity culture is taken to a much higher level, i’m treated like a bit of a rock star. i can’t walk ten feet through the convention center without someone (or a group of people) asking me to pose for a photo, or sign their convention handbooks. it’s downright weird. i try to “counter” it by being extra accessible. it’s my attempt to “de-mystify” the whole thing (whereas, many of the hipper artists are only seen in passing, as they bolt by in the hipster gear). but making myself accessible only increases the amount of photos i’m asked to be in, or autographs i’m asked to provide. it’s exactly the opposite of the message we want to communicate at these events: the youth workers are the heroes, not the people on the stage. i can say that in my seminars, but they still line up afterward with cameras in hand (along with a few who have great questions). i suspect half of them get home, see the photo they took, and think, “i have no clue who that guy was.”
really, it’s so weird to me: i’m a goofy dork of a guy who happens to have a role that puts me on stage for a general session. and i’m the token american here, which i think adds to the thing.
if i’m really honest (ooh, this hurts, but it’s true), there’s a part of it i like. it’s nice to feel special. but i know it’s really a false accolade, a fleeting “popularity” that has nothing to do with my character or the real me. i’m just “that guy”.
i’ve thought about not taking pictures or signing autographs; but that feels like it would be rude, and would imply (especially with the language barrier, since i can’t do more than smile and say “hola!”) that i’m too good for their silly pictures.
my friends here tease me about it; and i’m not sure i’m handling it well. but i’m not sure what else i should do. as i write this (sunday evening), i’m off to the final general session. it’s been an absolutely wonderful event, as usual. time to put on my goofy grin.