Mental Health Tips

Taylor Swift’s Concert in Singapore Made Me Feel Kinda Unusual

Emotional distance can be powerful in reducing intense feelings

Author’s friend’s image of her daughter doing the Swiftie thing. Image is used with express permission from said author’s friend.

(Non-members can read the full article here.)

I would call myself a half-Swiftie.

Taylor Swift’s indie-folk pandemic album evermore won this Gen Xer over with its captivating story-telling. By the way, I prefer evermore to the other way-more-popular pandemic album. Sorry, not sorry.

But even though I was excited about Taylor Swift making a stop in Singapore for her Asia leg of The Eras Tour earlier this month, I was not excited enough to want to attend her concert in person.

After Taylor Swift’s 3rd night in Singapore, a 3-hour long video clip of her concert started surfacing on YouTube. That video chalked up views quickly because the recording quality was actually half-decent.

I marvelled at the patience and generosity of the uploader and wondered if they knew their clip would soon be taken down due to copyright infringement.

And I decided to watch parts of the YouTube video before the inevitable happens.

The opening number was spectacular. The adulation from the 55,000-strong crowd for Taylor Swift was palpable. The superstar was in her zone, and killing it at working the crowd.

A viewer of that YouTube video could easily pick up that the crowd was experiencing a range of positive emotions such as thrill, euphoria, excitement, bliss, pride, love, and inexplicable camaraderie.

Curiously, the emotion that dominated my viewing of the first 30-minute of the concert was not any of those high-octane emotions. It was something I found surprising.

The dominant emotion I felt during those 30 minutes was happiness for Taylor Swift’s parents that they get to witness how self-actualised their superstar-daughter is.

Nothing intense and electrifying like what was going on with the concertgoers. Just a soft electric blanket of warm fuzzies.

A sympathetic joy, if you will.

Or maybe it’s a reflection of a latent desire to see my neurodivergent son become a self-actualised person, whatever form that may take.

I mentioned my curious and somewhat muted emotional response to several fellow Gen Xers in a chat group a couple of days later.

One of them attended Taylor Swift’s concert the night before and assured me that I’d have felt differently if I were at the concert.

I have no doubt my friend was right.

I attended Wrestlemania – as a fan – in Phoenix, Arizona many years ago. I’d experienced how stirring it can be to see your favourite celebrities live in action through a Jumbotron together with tens of thousands of other fans in a massive stadium. Yes, I’m fearless that way – I dare to mention WWE professional wrestling and Taylor Swift in the same breath…

A few things contributed to the reduced intensity of the emotions I felt while watching the concert on YouTube:

  1. The video recording — while half-decent — was not immersive. It only gave viewers a rough approximation of the real thing.
  2. I was watching the concert at home 8 kilometres (or 5 miles) away from the venue and a couple of days after the concert. It wasn’t a live stream. There was physical distance and temporal distance from the event itself.
  3. I was watching the concert on my phone by myself. I didn’t pick up infectious energy and bonding-related feel-good hormones — such as oxytocin and serotonin — from fellow concertgoers. There was emotional distance from the event.

Distortion of the event, distance from the event, no interference from other people… all these factors came together to temper intense positive emotions that may have otherwise arisen in me.

Want a helpful tip from a mental health counsellor? You can use those same tools to manage negative emotions.

Let’s say you experienced a moderately upsetting event. Maybe someone said something mean to you and you couldn’t shake it off.

You could try singing Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off (“…And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake I shake it off, I shake it off…”).

That will definitely help, not least because singing activates your vagus nerve and shifts your body into a calmer state instead of remaining in an agitated and threatened state.

Or you could distort the mean words and use a silly voice to keep repeating those words until they lose their meaning and become just background sounds in your head. You could also use the melody of the Happy Birthday song to sing out the insult and see how it reduces the power the insult has over you.

Next, distance. You could try putting emotional distance between you and the insult. Try saying this to yourself:

I notice I’m having the thought that [insert insult that you didn’t manage to shake off].

Compare how this feels with how it felt when you were tightly wound up with the sting of the insult. Do you feel a bit more… detached?

You probably also want to put some physical distance between you and the person who insulted you. This gives you space to breathe and cool down and recalibrate how you want to move forward with the triggering person.

I fully understand if Swifties and non-Swifties don’t get half-Swifties like me. But I know there are other half-Swifties out there.

I want to let the half-Swifties know they can watch The Eras Tour on Disney+ starting 15 March 2024. The entrance ticket is much more affordable and the venue is familiar and comfortable.

Just don’t expect to trade friendship bracelets during the concert.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you learnt something!

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Taylor Swift
Mental Health
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