You’ll ignore this post…click to see why!
Over the last few months (years, maybe?) I have been witness to a trend that not only offends my sense of well-being, but also slowly confirms my belief that nobody is quite sure how ‘all this is supposed to work.’ Social media is becoming a very negative space, just like television, and nearly every other form of communication we have available to us.
I am sure you’re wondering what I’m talking about. But you already know it.
If you go to a new restaurant and the owner asks you to share your positive experience on their page on Facebook…do you? Some do, maybe. However, that one person who has a bad experience at the same brand-new restaurant will make absolutely certain to tell of their negative experience, post a negative review on Yelp, shout it from the rooftops and share on other’s walls about their one ‘horrible experience.’ And? THAT’S THE POST WE SEE FIRST.
In my previous writing for other blogs, I’ve talked about the ‘trainwreck post,’ that post that either trashes something that the individual thinks isn’t worthwhile, a post slamming someone else for their misdeed or failure or even just to criticize a professional who they feel is doing a lousy job (whether it be a sports star, actor, director, DJ, etc.).
The sad part is that however cathartic that post is, no matter how many ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ or ‘re-tweets’ that information gets-RARELY DOES IT DO ANY GOOD. You only need go as far as our last presidential election cycle to see this: So much energy and time was spent on slagging one candidate and their missteps that his name was on the lips of more than half those voting…and that made for a successful bid.
The downside of this? What I’ll call the “Larry Flynt syndrome:” That all press is good press.
Yet we continue the negative tone of our social media, our one small platform that we have the ability to advertise ANYTHING WE WANT-and we advertise things we don’t like FIRST. Again…WHY?
We are a creature that loves controversy. From sex scandals of public figures, to housewives having dust-ups on TV for our delight, to musicians having meltdowns or bad performances…we cannot get enough of seeing the high and mighty fail miserably. For some reason, we love slowing down for automobile accidents, watching news about serial killers and murderers and typically love knowing that our favorite singer or rapper can’t throw a baseball-because it makes us feel better about ourselves. We are all guilty of it at some level, and it is a damn shame. And sure, every now and again, a special interest-type story will be posted and shared, we all go ‘aww’ or cry tears of happiness…then we go right back to comfort-”did you see that so-and-so just spent $40K on a cat?” “…oh yeah, he’ll be broke soon…”
Further, most people refuse to read for comprehension…and ever fewer people even read past the headline of the story. This week, a person who is famous because of her family name and money was reported by a ‘news’ outlet that she would be playing at one of the most high-profile nightclubs in Germany (If you don’t know, it’s okay-it’s not as important as you think)…reading the entire story to the end gave up the punchline (“we thought you needed a smile-she’s not playing there”). But so many people shared the story and complained about it (and the person), and more chimed in-WITH A LINK TO THE FULL STORY THAT NONE OF THEM READ. People acting like virtual lemmings, jumping to their death with a conclusion that started off as a falsification.
As an artist and musician, I find that more negative press for an artist seems to get people to do the one thing we all wish for as musicians-to get someone to listen to our works, and maybe if we’re lucky…buy something. We all have mutual friends in the same business as us, yet for some reason we tend to focus our energy into the slagging-off of those we ‘cannot stand,’ or spend countless time deconstructing those we find not to be ‘authentic,’ or what have you. Truth is, I have no time to analyze the why…but I have a better question to ask-what can any of us do to restore balance?
“Aww man, this milk is spoiled…taste it!” seems so very sophomoric and the mentality of college-age ‘dudes’ living together…but is it? If you hear a song on the radio that you find to be atrocious, do you share it with others, saying ‘oh this song sucks!’ or do you pay it no attention, and move on?
Advertisers, corporations and record labels pay large sums of money each year just to get people to talk about their products. You’re on social media for free. If you mention an item, whether negative or positive-there’s an algorithm that has the ability to take that word and generate more advertisements geared toward this…so if you were to say ‘vlasic pickles are awful,’ you may find tomorrow that you’re going to see advertisements for other pickle brands-and maybe even that brand you just ‘complained’ about in your social network feed.
YOUR OPINION IS AS VALUABLE AS GOLD TO ADVERTISERS AND MERCHANTS. THEY NEED YOU TO TALK ABOUT THEM!
So why would you give something free press that you cannot stand? Whether it be a brand, a racist individual, a celebrity you think is insane, or the like?
SOLUTION: TALK ABOUT THINGS YOU LOVE, SAY NOTHING ABOUT THINGS YOU DON’T!
This goes along with that old adage: Stop making stupid people famous. If nobody talks about them, stops watching their reality shows, quietly stops purchasing their works, stops attending their performances, and stops clicking on stories involving them, that celebrity becomes less powerful. If you’re not talking about them, and they NEED you to talk about them to keep their empire growing…why would you help them? People do outrageous things BECAUSE they know people will respond. Nobody talks about the guy who opens the door for the lady…but damn certain the guy who shuts a door in a woman’s face is going to get talked about.
If you are involved in the arts? Here’s a great idea-SUPPORT THE ARTISTS YOU LIKE BY SHARING THEIR WORK WITH OTHERS. PROMOTE ARTISTS YOU THINK SHOULD BE MAKING WAVES. SHARE THE GOOD WORKS THAT THEY DO WITH THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW!
The life you save may be that of a legend or pioneer-like Colonel Abrams, who died homeless and unable to care for himself medically.
Which brings me to another point: All the stories of artists, painters, musicians who die penniless and insane-but are revered in the afterlife because their work is ‘discovered’ posthumously? They’re sad tales…and far too common. GIVE LOVE AND RESPECT TO ARTISTS WHILE THEIR ALIVE. You just may save their life, or help them to put food on the table…or maybe even give them that one small bit of joy that makes them continue creating.
I am so tired of seeing and hearing people in the world bemoan the death of a famous artist that they haven’t talked about in years, or say ‘gone too soon’ to a professional who worked 3 decades in the public eye on their craft to acclaim. Maybe they died because they were 78 and in ill health…or maybe they died of neglect, thinking that nobody gave a shit about them anymore?
BE THAT CHANGE. Stop conversing about dramatic or trivial nonsense. USE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CURRENCY WISELY. USE YOUR ADVERTISING POWER TO CREATE GOOD FOR THINGS THAT YOU LIKE.
Because, to someone else, that silence is deafening…
I started with my own self this year, and while I’m not perfect, I’m still working more for the common good than the common bad.
If you like this post, please share it with others. Maybe we can make a small change in what we see!