I probably spend too much time on various Internet forums. I find it very interesting to read the views and opinions of others on a variety of subjects and I often feel that I have a better understanding of why people have viewpoints opposite of mine. Quite often I find that those with opposing viewpoints make valid points that I had not considered and I think that makes me a more informed and educated person.

 The Internet has provided us with a wonderful window on the world. A few years ago I would not have imagined myself sitting here in the evenings chatting away with people from all over the world. It is fascinating how different cultures can be and yet, in some ways, people are the same all over. No matter how good things are for us, we still like to complain about the things we donít like and often take for granted things that people in other parts of the world can only imagine.

 The anonymity of the Internet allows us to be whoever we want to be, or perhaps, the only place where we can really be ourselves and speak our true mind without fear of repercussions. It can go either way. Much like when I was in a business where I spent many hours each week talking to people on the telephone, there are people with whom I have chatted many, many times over the course of several years and I refer to them as friends or foes even though we have never met in person. On those occasions where I finally do meet some of these people, it is equally fascinating to see how the real person compares to the person that I had imagined in my mind's eye. Sometimes I think I had them pegged and other times I find that the real person is nothing at all like what I had assumed.

 This writing was prompted by a series of posted messages on one of the Internet forums that I frequent. As many of you know, I am a knifemaker and knife collector. There are a lot of us ďknife nutsĒ out there. We just love the design, craftsmanship and sometimes artistic beauty of fine cutlery. It is well known that there are a number of celebrities who share our enthusiasm and appreciation of knives. I canít explain why having a famous person or celebrity show a common interest makes it something special but it never fails to generate a lot of discussion.

The well-known actress, ambassador and sometimes activist Angelina Jolie is reported to be a knife collector. Someone claiming to be Angelina posted a few messages on one of the knife forums. The reaction was surprising to me. Many people were skeptical that she would actually post a message on the forum, especially under her own name. Some were so certain that the poster was a fraud that they went out of their way to be insulting and even obscene in their replies.

Why is it so hard to believe that a celebrity would share our hobby and interests? Why is that people tend to think that celebrities are not real people who would spend some of their time sitting at the computer and browsing topics of interest just as we do? Maybe it was her and maybe it wasnít. I donít know and I really am not concerned enough to spend much effort trying to find out. My point is, what if it was?

 I think our culture does often put too much emphasis on celebrity. Movie stars and professional athletes are often regaled as national heroes and icons. Angelina is an actress. Her job is to portray characters in movies and she does that very well in my opinion. Itís simply what she does for a living and probably because she has a passion for her art just as a knifemaker has a passion for making knives. She may be a wonderful person as she seems to be from the bits of her life that we are shown but in fact, she may be an entirely different person than the persona presented to use through the media and public relations firms. I do believe that she has done some admirable charity work and given of herself for various causes that she supports.

 If I should somehow someday become rich and famous and attain some sort of celebrity status I doubt that it would make me lose interest in the things that I love now. I can see no reason why I would stop visiting and participating in discussion forums. I imagine that I might even Google my own name now and then just to see what people are saying about me. Why do some think it such a far-fetched idea that Angelina might occasionally sit down at a computer and visit a knife forum if knives are something that interests her?

 In any event, I cannot see any reason to doubt that she might look at the Internet or knife forums just as we do and especially cannot see any reason to be insulting and critical if she does indeed do so. Personally, I admire her work and I would be honored if she wanted one of my knives in her collection if she is indeed a collector. I do not think she is a god or somehow better than the rest of humanity nor can I criticize her for her opinions and choices. I have met a few celebrities in my lifetime and I have found most to be warm and friendly people. I think we must remember that they do lead a different kind of life that many of us couldnít even imagine and there is good reason to be guarded and perhaps a bit distant.  If it was really Angelina who posted on the forum, I hope she can disregard the few extremely rude and hateful comments made by a few morons and will continue to visit. If it was an imposter posing as Angelina, they really need to get a life and find something more productive to do with their time. Either way, I think, at least in the knife enthusiast community, we should welcome and not trash interested parties.


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