Oh boy! So much to add to this conversation. I'm going to try not to be ridiculous, but that's often the goal and we see how well that goes lol.
I want to start first by saying there is absolutely no right or wrong way to "Michael" (what a verb). I think it's all about doing what makes us feel good, fulfilled, and nurtured in the process of enjoying Michael as an artist, performer, human being, (fantasy 😉 )...It is highly personal and unique to each person. Which I know others have said above, but I feel the need to reiterate it before I get into my feelings.
Surprisingly enough to some perhaps, I haven't been "Michaeling" properly for a while now. I have some suspicions why... And it's not because I love him any less!! But I won't go into details here.
Honestly I should just try to go back to plain Michaeling again, because I do miss it. 🤔
Why would you not consider being on the forum part of Michaeling? I never thought about it that way 🤔. My Michaeling is often exclusively on the forum.
Ok, so for me I don't consider being on MJJC Michaeling at all.
This is only something I came to realize in the fall and now that I have realized it, I can't return to thinking any other way about it. It's probably the main reason I spend less time on here.
The forum, for me, is a kind of social media that centers around Michael. I learn a lot, I love it, and I get joy from it. But it's a very social experience. Whether you are actively interacting with people, or just lurking, you are constantly consuming other people's views of Michael, his music, their relationship to him, etc. It's no longer just about you (a fan, follower, kindred experience, etc) and Michael. You are participating in this global landscape of fandom. It's kind of like if you are taking a walk through nature with a group of people vs. taking one alone. With the group, you have a great time talking, connecting, experiencing each others company, in addition to the beautiful weather and scenery. But when you are alone, you can sink into yourself and into the world around you and really feel its beauty penetrate you in a different way. Your mind can wander to new places, you can reflect, and even become a more present, sometimes better, version of yourself even just for a few minutes.
This, to me, is one of the differences. I have more metaphors coming, so buckle up lol.
Also, I will say that a lot of this shift happened for me around Thriller 40. I also felt fairly dissatisfied for a few months and felt that my Michaeling was imbalanced with too much time on the forum. However, it really gelled for me when T40 was released. The constant negativity and some people even being offended by the desire for positivity really gutted me. When T40 came out, I stayed up waiting for it to release so I could stream it immediately. I put on headphones and went in a separate room of my house so I could be alone, and I just listened in the darkness. And my God. What an incredible experience. I loved every moment of it. I can still recall the exact feelings I had when I heard each song for the first time. So to feel this way and try to share it and then see people immediately shit all over my feelings, that really cemented for me that Michaeling is a personal and individual experience and trying to do it in a group just does not work for my personality.
I really love the ebb and flow of the whole 'Michaeling' thing. I love the fact that it's not static, it feels complicated, it feels multi-layered. The intensity changes - OK, maybe not for sw23 but for me it does, lol.
This is correct. My intensity never changes, it's just a matter of how public I am with it.
My intensity is constant and exhausting 😂
No, it is. I think I just made that point. I literally just posted a comment. I can't explain this. I need to send out an urgent call to @staywild23
. I basically need the woman to do my thinking for me, lol.
She explains stuff SO much better than I do.
What a terrifying thought (for you) lol
Facebook/Twitter? I guess that's how your guys find the wonderful new pics etc. Watch Michael related YT videos?
I think I used to do that pre-forum days. But now I am just here, sometimes on YT, and rarely on FB.
Well maybe "proper" isn't the right term, honestly... It's just that for myself, enjoying things alone tends to feel "safer", and I haven't done that in a long time with Michael (though to be fair, I did want some friends, lol). Even just listening to his music has been a while, even though my love has not decreased.
I don't know if it's the 'safer' aspect for me or just what I'm used to. I'm not a natural 'online' person so maybe that's it.
I think maybe I should just explain what I consider Michaeling.
For me, Michaeling is NOT related to being on social media at all (Twitter, FB groups, Reddit) though I do participate in all of those things at varying levels of depth. I also do not search for things about Michael on the internet almost at all because I don't trust most sources when it comes to him, though there are a few exceptions. I also don't tend to seek out pictures intentionally, which is one of the reasons I don't post many photos of him. Although the biggest reason (and I know @zinniabooklover
gets this, because we've discussed it) is that sometimes I feel too much from a photo to post it. My feelings are too intense, so I just keep it to myself. I don't even mean intense in the 'sw23' tradition, either 😂 I just mean emotional, or connected, or something. That part is hard for me to explain. But it feels private somehow.
For me, Michaeling is all about feeling my emotional/spiritual connection to him as a human being, and feeling most alive within myself as it relates to him. That happens primarily through listening to his music. I listen to Michael every day, often off and on throughout the day. Sometimes I will only listen to a song or two. But most days I listen to him quite a lot. If I'm super busy or something and I go a couple of days without listening to him, I miss him a lot. I've never experienced with an artist what I experience with him. Take a song like "Get on the Floor" which is my favorite from Off the Wall. This is a song that is literally just about dancing and having a good time. But for me, it feels so deep. I can't explain it. It emanates this radiant joy for life. His voice, the music. It's wild because in the past my primary connection to music was through lyrics with significant depth (Dylan) but with Michael, my connection feels emotionally and spiritually transcendent because of his voice. It's also just f'n fun lol. Anyway, I only use the example of GOTF because it's a random 'good time' kind of song and it affects me so deeply. So when you consider the broad range of Michael's music, from childhood to the posthumous stuff, I feel I can experience every range of emotion at the drop of a hat by listening to him. I can sob in my kitchen over "Speechless" and the feeling of being transported to heaven for 4 minutes and then I can dance around a sing to "Petals" on repeat six times in a row and feel like a little kid. And THAT for me is the ultimate Michaeling. Experiencing the magnitude of my own emotional range through connecting to his music.
However, second to his music is watching him. This includes watching him perform and his short films, of course, but it also includes (quite significantly) watching footage of him visiting orphanages, or going to award shows, or just casual interactions, appearances, etc. Just him as a human being. That is a very important part of Michaeling for me. I love watching his interviews (I've probably watched the Ebony Jet one at least 30 times and the Oprah one at least 15?). I love watching every appearance he made. I posted this somewhere else, but in the early winter I watched the entirety of the 1984 AMAs and Grammys because I wanted to experience every aspect of him at those events. I wanted to see every shot of him in the audience, hear every joke or reference made to him (there are a lot), and immerse myself in the atmosphere of it. This might sound insane to people, but I am obsessed with cultural context and since I wasn't alive back then, I don't have any. This is the closest I can get to understanding it. I might also be crazy too lol. The point is, watching him in some form or another is VERY important to me. I feel his aura through the screen. I feel like I know him. He inspires me.
I would add a couple of things to this:
Michaeling for me also includes drawing him, or producing art that is inspired by him. Right now I'm gearing up to start a series of animal drawings. I want to draw all of these animals connected to him in some way. Idk why. I just feel the desire to. But I also love drawing portraits of him. It's very intimate and I feel very connected when I do that. It also includes staring at a lot of photos of him, which is a huge plus haha.
It also includes learning about him, privately. Meaning, I love reading about him, and listening to podcasts about him (The Case for Innocence Podcast is a current obsession, along with back episodes of the MJCast). But I have to pace myself with all of this stuff because it sometimes is too much for me, especially the darker parts of his life. But I find I am much happier and feel more connected when I do this without other people's commentary.
It also includes my own creative drive, spiritual journey, sexuality, and community service. Michael has inspired me in all of those arenas so sometimes when I'm feeding one, like when I volunteer every weekend, I feel connected to him in some way. Again, maybe I sound insane? lol
But the point is, for me, Michaeling is very multi-faceted. When I was on the forum A LOT, I just didn't have time for the majority of what I mentioned above. I would sometimes spend hours on the forum chatting with people and I'd enjoy it, but I'd feel kind of empty after because I didn't listen to Michael at all that day, or for a couple days, or something.
None of this is meant to knock the forum at all, whatsoever. This is just me sharing my own unique relationship to Michael and my experience trying to understand it.
I don't think you are, though. Your 'Michaeling' involves lots of DWT and HWT which I cannot do. In fact, I don't even do a great deal of BWT 1987 or Triumph, tbh. Not compared to how much time I spend listening to music, for example. I still haven't watched an entire show all the way through (apart from Live in Mexico, 1975) whereas you can look at a photo or a gif and know *exactly* which show it's from and which song.
The only shows I've watched completely, straight through, are those I've seen at watch parties. After the watch parties, I will rewatch those same shows over and over. But shows that are new to me? No. Way too intense lol. I still have only managed to watch ONE performance from Brisbane because I literally want to light myself on fire when I watch it just to cope with my feelings 😂
I've done that in the past but I don't think that qualifies as 'Michaeling' for me. I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm just terribly old-school about all of this. I wouldn't be without the web but that feels like something different to Michaeling. Maybe bc I grew up just listening to music bc that was all we had so listening to his music feels the most natural to me and the most fulfilling, the most exciting, just perfect.
I feel all of this. Even though I didn't grow up with Michael and I DID grow up with the internet, I relate to everything you said.
Naturally, all of this only applies to my world. Searching for stuff online, for example, I totally get that as 'Michaeling' for someone else. Just recently I was online searching for Cyndi Lauper stuff and YT suddenly offered me a audio clip of Michael talking about Stevie Wonder. Made no sense but, of course, I was thrilled. The clip is one of the best I've heard so I'm not knocking the web. Just yesterday sw23 found another audio clip of Michael. Absolutely gorgeous.
Yes! I am so grateful for these little gems I find via Twitter. But the sacrifice is sometimes my time, energy, and emotional state lol. So when I find those I share them, but I otherwise am trying to avoid it.
I really think it's about listening to his music. There's a quality of connection that I don't get from any other activity. Maybe it's really as simple as that.
Yes! Big part of it
Final point - I'm sure I'm contradicting myself in this post bc I do that. What can I say? I am inconsistent, lol. I do find all of this stuff quite difficult to think about or understand.
Oh same. I speak in a lot of absolutes when I'm feeling intensely lol.
PHEW... I am sorry all! This was way longer than I meant for it to be. But what can I say?
"All I can be is who I am, whoever that is" -- Dylan 😊