I am feeling a bit restless.
Here’s what about:
My work and, well, social media…mostly frickin’ social media.
Here’s why, and yes, I know what I’m about to write makes me sound a tad old.
During my song writing/recording days, music was about albums. How the songs flowed together as a group. My band labored over the order of songs in hopes that our album would be an experience that lasted from the first to the last song. An order of songs that could transport you to another place and elicit all sorts of feelings, memories, and more. A song or two would usually stand out as more immediately accessible, while others clearly fell into the ‘grows on you after 10 listens’ category.
I know, I know…there are still albums, but….
With the advent of iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, music seems to be individual song driven. Often the most accessible, quick-to-like songs. We spend the 99 cents and boom—we’ve got the hit on our phones.
But what about the rest of the album? What about the songs that don’t jump right out at you? What about the songs that take 10 listens to appreciate?
Here’s the truth—there are albums that I’ve been listening to for 30 years, yet STILL discovering in them things I never have before. Noticing a lyric here, a guitar riff there. Elements that I seemingly passed by for years until, for whatever reason, they stood out. Songs whose meanings change for me as my life changes. Lyrics that are more relevant to me now than they were when I first heard them.
Here’s my fear…
With an unprecedented amount of music, art, videos, blogs, podcasts, news, films, shows etc. out there (a good thing) we are perhaps losing out on the deeper, more meaningful, less accessible content (not such a good thing) because it’s just too to easy to go from hit to hit to hit. We are devoting less time to discovery, insight, the deeper meaning. We hear the hit song, download the hit song, and move on.
Perhaps even worse, many content creators are working hard to craft the most effective ‘click bait’ for fear their work will be lost in the craziness. More and more focus is on what will go viral than on what will change the world for the better.
So how does social media relate to all this?
About two months ago I deleted my Twitter account, and never looked back. Why? Because it’s the epitome of quick hits, headlines. Get it all in in 140 or 280 characters and move on. Don’t linger. In fact, if you’re not on your feed a ton, you miss a ton. I began to go on less and less and despise it more and more.
But that’s Twitter…I am still on Facebook and Instagram.
While I’m not ready to throw in the towel on them yet, I am putting some serious thought to what, if anything, they’re adding to my life. Both platforms have very little to do with my actual work, my actual ideas. My work lives entirely on smallsteppers.com, my books, YouTube, this blog, and previously on my podcast (incidentally, I may have some news on that front in the coming months). I do enjoy keeping up with old friends now and then, but on the balance, losing interest in the whole shebang–in fact, I wish there was another way to keep in touch with old friends, say something like (and I’m just throwing out ideas here) some sort of electronic mail-ish type of thing, or a device we could talk into and our voices would be sent through the air.
Here’s what I really want:
- I want whatever I decide to do about social media to be an actual choice. Not something I do because I think I SHOULD be doing it for my career.
- I want to minimize distractions (social media and otherwise) wherever possible so I can continue working hard to produce increasingly better work, deep work, quality work. So that my focus is forever on the entire album, not the hit song.
Frankly, the fact that the phrase “click bait” even exists is a sad commentary on the modern world. So, let’s not forget about the beneath-the-surface content, and do what we can when we can to find it.
If this means tossing out Facebook, then so it goes.
How about this instead: I’ll see you at the coffee house.