Sometimes, I really hate social media.
There was a time when social media was just that: social. We caught up with old friends, shared pictures of our kids, and talked about the fun things we did. Even pictures of our meals wasn’t all that obnoxious.
Somewhere along the way, the tide turned. We ran out of positive things to talk about (I guess), and things went political and religious. Battle lines were drawn, and suddenly you remembered why you hadn’t made much of an effort to catch up with some of those old high school “friends” after all.
I sought sanctuary in music discussions, where I was able to find hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow fans of my favorite bands. We would talk about our favorite albums and songs, and even arrange to meet up for concerts. It was a lot of fun. Until it wasn’t.
Once again, the tide turned. Musical snobbery, closed-mindedness, and flat out bile began to fly between the fans of the same band! Fans of one era declared war on fans of another era. Mean-spiritedness, name-calling, and personal denigration became the order of the day. Civility had gone straight out the window. And God forbid you tied your favorite musician to a political or social stance. This all but guaranteed all hell breaking loose.
Social media groups had become a cesspool, and I was ready to get out.
But I had to face a fundamental truth: without social media, my musical world is nowhere near what it is right now.
Social media put me in contact with the musicians I interviewed for my book. It helped me build a small community of like-minded individuals, allowing me to keep the toxic element (mostly) at arm’s length. It helps me stay on top of upcoming releases and track down past records long since thought lost. Social media keeps the music flowing in ways that were not possible before.
And then there’s this whole pandemic thing.
Most of us have chosen to stay isolated in our homes. We don’t go to concerts. We don’t hang out at bars. We don’t go out for meals. Some have family members to keep them company around the clock, but sometimes a change is needed. Some (like me) live a life in total isolation. Saying hello to the person at the security desk or the nice lady in the mail room (where I pick up my many packages) is about the extent of personal human contact during the day.
There are next to no people I talk to via telephone on a regular basis. I’m fortunate to belong to a couple of groups that have a virtual “Happy Hour” every week or two. But that’s not a whole lot of time for social interaction in the grand scheme of things. So where do I go for some kind of contact? How do I have the occasional intelligent conversation when I need it? How do I keep in touch with the outside musical world?
God help me, it’s social media.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … yeah, sometimes they can be a pit of despair. Luckily, I’ve found a way to control the descent.
Here’s the irony: I found the best way to handle dealing with Facebook groups and the drama that comes with them was to form a Facebook Group of my own. “CirdecSongs” was formed just under a month ago. I hoped to get 100 or so people talking about music and enjoying the community that came with it. I made my own rules, which are amiable enough. But the restrictions are STRICTLY enforced. So far, I haven’t had any major problems.
I hoped for 100 people. The dream was 200. As I write these words, I’m nine people short of 800 members. Granted, Taylor Swift draws those kind of numbers for breakfast. But for a nobody from nowhere talking about music most people have never heard of or care about, that’s not too shabby! Naturally, I’ve begun to wonder if I can hit 1,000. And while I don’t think it will happen overnight, I DO think it’s possible. It’s nothing a little “word of mouth” advertising (and a little more recruiting) won’t fix. But even if I don’t make that magic number, so what? I’m happy to work with what I have.
Posts about bands that barely merited the time of day on my regular timeline now generate stimulating conversations. Some more than others, to be sure. But I’m finding people who actually joined are much more engaged than those who are essentially solicited at random. An obvious statement, to be sure. But seeing the phenomenon in motion is still a sight to see. Being thanked for opening someone’s ears to a new band is always a nice kick in the ego. And being introduced to someone unfamiliar is also quite a joy. And there’s no real surprise to my posts, where subject matter is concerned. The message is clear: “It’s a self-indulgent page about music. So if you see something coming from this group, you know what it’s gonna be.”
I’m still a few steps from being happy with social media, but at least I’m headed back in the right direction.
The plan is to use these interweb powers for good. Live videos, chat rooms, podcasts, video reviews … lots of things are in the works. And they all depend on social media to drive them forward. Go figure.
There’s lots to do, and I’m actually very excited about it. If you’re a part of the Facebook nation, feel free to go to the “Groups” section and look up CirdecSongs. I’ll see you there. Otherwise, stay tuned here for future announcements about activities on other platforms.
How on earth did I wind up HERE? It would appear that I’ve found a way to make social media work for me, after all.
You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell
Would you like to have your album reviewed? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Social media certainly are a double-edged sword. They can easily turn into echo chambers, which can be quite dangerous. Undoubtedly, they exacerbate many problems this country has. But, as you said, it also very much depends on how you use these platforms and for what.
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I have no problem with social media. It’s the advertisements I can’t stand. So, no, I will not be re-opening my deleted Facebook account. Sorry.
There are alternative online communities, of course. I use Hubzilla. But there’s nothing else with the reach of Facebook so, for promoting the Cirdecsongs empire it’s a case of Hobson’s choice, I’m afraid.
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You’re already here. It’s all good.