A few months ago, I was talking to the editor-in-chief of a leading music media brand.
He kept asking me what I thought about this writer and that writer, digging for information, trying to see if I’d cosign someone. Maybe he’d hire them? It’s happened more times than I can remember.
And yet it was such a strange conversation.
Every person this editor mentioned had a super strong social media presence, but was vastly under-qualified for whatever we were discussing. It was almost like the candidates were tweeting themselves into their positions, and that was… alarming.
We’ve come to this place in media — well, at least the part of media I’m in — where being top of mind is more about social media savvy than actually doing anything.
I thought to myself — why aren’t you trying to find some real talent? Like, are you being serious right now? Do a real search, man. To think you’d entrust someone with a job because they have a vaguely-entertaining Twitter account is pretty nuts. Then I told him that.
But that’s where we are these days. The internet, the giant echo chamber, with everyone sitting around on Twitter and Facebook repeating what the other person is saying.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet and I love that you can essentially spend all day on it and seemingly walk into great opportunities. The internet has certainly opened up doors for more people, and yeah, that’s beautiful. Hip-hop hooray.
It’s also gotten terribly clicky and almost laughable with how incestuous it is. Years ago, you could hide your favored relationships on a masthead, buried somewhere deep in a magazine. Now you can actually see it unfolding in real-time via Facebook likes and favorited Tweets. It’s disconcerting.
I know this sounds idealistic as all hell, but please, let’s try get back to judging people on the quality of their work, and not how great they are at pleasing the crowd on social media. That isn’t work. That’s popularity.
And I don’t so much mind a world where it’s about who you know — because it’s always going to be partly about who you know — but can the people you know at least have some fucking sense? I think we’ll all be better for it.