Re-thinking social networking...or @dumb way for @musician to communicate with@fan
Last week it started as a cold and by Sunday I think it was more like the flu. You know the feeling...tired, achy, coughing , sneezing, wheezing and not wanting to do anything with anybody at anytime. It's a great time for a skeptic to morph into crankiness, and to take his usual caustic outlook on life and turn it into something positive like a full blown rant. Aren't blogs great? Let me start with this one...Facebook and Twitter are dead. It's over...really...think of CB radio and phone booths. A couple years ago I found myself out of work and joined Linkedin, which seems to exist solely as a depository for resumes from music biz types who have been put out to pasture and can't find a gig. You'd sign on everyday to read posts from former colleagues like "entertainment software executive is available to take your business to the next level" or "c-level experienced self-starter announces a new independent marketing partnership". While many felt the need to puff themselves up, I took it as a chance to knock myself down. It wouldn't be unusual for me to post a line like "I will stop looking for work as soon as I find a job" or "I plan to be spontaneous tomorrow". After a year or so of Linkedin I got a message one day from Vince...one of the last few guys left in the music business who wrote, and I'll quote, "we need you on Facebook...your wit and humor will take you far here". While I'm not sure how stealing from Steven Wright or Henny Youngman makes me anything other than a thief (to steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.) , one day a few months ago I signed up for Facebook to see what it was all about. Literally fifteen minutes after I created my account I received a message from Cindy....we dated in 1969 and haven't seen each other in thirty-something years. We exchanged the obligatory catch-up messages and she connected me to her brother in Jersey, sister in Ohio and about a dozen or so other old friends from the neighborhood we grew up in. Rick sells knick-knacks on eBay for a living, Kathy just bought a condo, Gary has a "cool job" in computer programming where he can still wear jeans and David, the draft card burning radical, is now an ultra-conservative Fox News lover. Dick left his wife and sells real estate while singing in a seventies cover band on the weekends, and Sheldon loves to send all of us daily emails with old Beatle's video clips attached. And this my friends...this was the interesting stuff. Within a few weeks I had over 300 Facebook friends...most I knew and a few I didn't. Everyday the first thing I did was to log on and see what all my wonderful friends were up to. Brian loves to tell us in detail what he had for dinner the night before. Brad is out of work and spends his days sending out inspirational quotes from Buddhist monks that are hardly as funny as Steven Wright. Matt challenges me to "test your musical knowledge about album covers" and George likes to post headlines from The Onion along with his witty takes on them. Andrea has head lice, Bob is born again, Jamie took the kids to Legoland and is really tired, Chistine lost her dog, Caitlin adopted a dog, Monica is getting things done today. . . A lot of what I see on Facebook really comes from Twitter...people link their accounts so they can post the important events of the day while stepping away from their computer. Sometimes you can't be sure if it's a Tweeet or not, but a dead giveaway reads something like "Jenny is awaiting @gromitgirl for tacos and Nipper photoshoot...", whatever that means. But I am thankful for the opportunity to be kept abreast of every movement that these folks make because frankly...I don't think I could live without knowing these personal events on a minute by minute basis. Really..how did we do it before? A lot of the folks here on this ND site are addicted to the social networking thing and I won't name names. Up until about two or three weeks ago I was too...it's easy to get sucked in and if you don't check in every few hours or so you might miss something really important like this...."Today Keith works a double so tonight after work I shall fulfill my wifely duties and go grocery shopping...with coupons!" I have no doubt that sometime later today the follow up will be "It was double coupon day at Cub Foods and I got frozen string beans for .99 but they melted on the way home when I stopped at Sue's house for a shot of whiskey and strangled her cat by mistake. Oops!". A few months ago I wrote here about social networking...how some artists use it to their advantage and some turn it over to a publicist or their record label and come off sounding like an ad for coffee or a pair of jeans. It seemed to me at the time that this was a great tool for an artist to reach out to fans and find new ones. But today, I'm not so sure. In fact, it might just be a career killer. It's the old adage about being on a nude beach and a girl in a bikini shows up and every guy stares at her. In other words, there's something to be said about mystery. OK...so I guess this is a retraction of my previous blog. And the other thing is....Facebook isn't much fun anymore. Once you've reconnected with all these people you used to know, got all caught up, taken the quizzes, played Mafia Wars...it seems as ridiculous as cruising down the highway yelling " breaker breaker one-niner..come in please" into a microphone. Maybe I'll still check in from time to time, drop in a witticism or quotation, an observation or update. But mostly, I'm over it. Old grumpy sick guy...signing off.