So, I actively attempt to keep my real life independent of my online life. With the exception of one crossover moment, I'm a firm believer in the idea that the two serve different functions and as such, never the twain shall meet. Typically, I conceive of other message board posters as nameless, faceless entities who don't exist beyond their opinions of pop culture ephemera. That's worked pretty well for me and while the world doesn't end when I do stumble upon someone's picture or real name, anonymity seems to me to still be one of the most significant aspects of internet culture. (Even as I see it rabidly dwindling every second.)
To switch gears, I faithfully followed American Idol this past season for the first time ever. As The O.C. concluded and my love of The Office waned, it became appointment television for me. I didn't so much enjoy the contestants's performances as I did the culture that builds up around each season of Idol- magazine covers, celebrity appearances, fan wars, and the like. In The Year of Blake/Jordin, Idol went above and beyond in providing fodder for meta commentary through its production of Idol Gives Back, the single greatest mindfuck I've seen on television in years. When Jordin was crowned the S6 Idol a few weeks ago, I wondered how I would fulfill my 19E competitive reality show void. Luckily, FOX anticipated this ennui and immediately provided me, So You Think You Can Dance. Same creators, same producers, same format, different talent. For me, SYTYCD is actually more entertaining since once upon a time, I was a dancer.
The show seems to know this about me as the L.A. Auditions actually featured a contestant with whom I danced several years ago! That's right, Jesus "Chuy" Solorio from Paso Robles (my hometown) was actually in my high school dance company! This is not meant to make me sound like a better dancer than I was; I never possessed 1/100th of the talent that Chuy possesses. But I mean, it's not every day that I see someone from Paso on TV and in a dance contest, no less. The dance community is small. Paso Robles is even smaller. During my tenure in both, it's undeniable that all twenty of us knew each other at some point. So after I picked my jaw up off the floor, the inevitable move was to go to the SYTYCD board at TWoP and brag about knowing a contestant. (No, I didn't really do that; that's obnoxious behavior. I did express some Paso pride, though.)
Reading through the Auditions thread, I came upon a post that began, "As a resident of Paso Robles..." As a resident of Paso Robles. There are less than 30,000 residents of Paso Robles. What are the odds that I know this person? So I read through a few more of her posts wherein she mentions a relatively famous choreographer who taught in residence at the local dance studio for a couple years. This means she at least, has knowledge of the teeny tiny Paso dance community. Then, she went on to say that her husband works with a girl who danced with Chuy "since they were little kids." !
Seriously, I know this person. I may know her husband and I definitely know his coworker. I am so, so tempted to send her a private message inquiring as to who she is. But I have such mixed feelings about it. The curiousity is killing me (and I wonder if I'll be able to figure it out from the content of her posts,) but where would we go from there? I have no desire to online friend a soccer mom from my hometown, and I'm not sure I want to reveal anything substantive about myself (like my permanent residence or background) for such a tenuous connection. Still, the curiousity. It's making me twitchy.
And chalk it up to various online oddities, but it's so interesting to me that when TWoP was the little tv site that could, we were all anonymous television junkies joined only by a persistent need to overanalyze. However as the site mutates into a corporate behemoth (and seemingly loses any quaint, communal feel,) it's revealed that other posters are (literally) in my own backyard.