OK, we’ve all had enough.
Time for a Revolution.
We’ve been using social media for about 10 years now, and everyday, I ask myself if it makes my life better. And to be honest, I don’t know.
One thing’s for sure: it’s definitely a great rolodex. The past 10 years of my use of social media has made for a hefty list of people I can technically get in touch with when and if I need to. Technically.
Because of course, the ability to be able to contact someone, versus actually establishing a conversation with someone, is not the same thing. We’ve all had the experience of obtaining someone’s name on facebook and ‘becoming friends’ with them, and then you write to them, and they never answer you. I can recall specifically being provided with an event organizer’s information with the wonderful brightness of complete trust in the words of the person giving me the contact information Just write to him, send him your music, tell him I gave you his info, he’s awesome and for sure he’ll love your music, and so my message to this person gets sent, never to be replied to.
Opened, sure, yes, because social media platforms all have those very practical ways of letting you know people have read your message. But replied to? That’s another story, up to the ever-fascinating behaviour of the creature that is the human person. So yeah, sure, social media gets you in touch with people -only if the said-people are actually willing to get in touch, though.
But yes, of course, when the human being you’re contacting is actually decent and respectful enough to reply to your message, then yes, social media can be great.
There was a point where it was fun. Fun, practical, easy and very useful, especially for people like me who are independent artists of all kinds. This article is written from my own experience and perspective as an indie musician.
There was a point where whatever I posted, whether it be my new single, my latest blog post or the event link to my next live performance -all of that, people would see easily. My posts would just pop up in their news feed, making our online connection very simple. My friends and fans would sometimes message me or comment, and we’d engage in some of the most profound conversations I can say I had.
Back then, it wasn’t that much of a problem for me to use social media. It was part of my life, and I’ve actually been complimented many, many times for my abilities with it. When we open up your facebook page, it’s like there’s this massive communications and marketing team behind it, someone from the music industry once said to me -and he hasn’t been the only one.
Yeah, sure, it was great, and it was easy to use. I even made my use of it as another aspect of my creative expression.
I’ll pause here and say this: there’s a reason why I play rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s the same reason why I decided it became a musician, and it’s the same reason why I’m now a contributor to Anti-Social Media dot ca. I’m a rebel, and a revolutionary, and I’ve never been one to embrace social standards, and have always found my own authority to make a lot more sense than any other that was imposed on me.
I actually never really wanted to use social media in the first place. I did it because I’m a musician, and social media presented itself as the best way to connect with my fans, and fellow musicians. But every day I’ve been using it since 2009, I’ve felt a slight but constant resistance to using it, because it went against my values. As a revolutionary rock ‘n’ roll rebel, to be imposed the use of something that went against my own principles and nature as key to the development of my career, especially when coming from a family of musicians who all made wonderful careers back when social media wasn’t even something conceivable, created a duality, a constant opposition within, in the long run. And sure, I can accept it all, because that’s just the way things are nowadays, but it doesn’t make the duality disappear, and when it’s at the core of your values, it’s hard to just deal with it.
And sure, it’s cool to get to stay in touch with friends, and most of my friends are marvelous artists of all kinds, and I’m 100% all about artists supporting artists, and cultivating the prosperity of my local communities, and above all, uplifting and supporting real, raw, genuine art in all its forms. And yes, social media was once a great tool for that. I used to be able to see what everyone was up to, when I’d open my social media feeds. I used to be able to know what my friends’ latest projects were, and what they were currently working on.
Now though, when I open my social media feeds, I see one friend’s post, then ads, then the randomest selection of the randomest posts by the randomest of people I will never know, or care to know, for that matter, and then maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to see one or even 2 posts made by my friends before being force-fed more ads and posts I couldn’t care less about, again. And sure, there’s ad blockers and all, but that’s not my point.
If the default of those platforms is now this, it’s a real problem. The excuse, of course, is They’ve gotta make money to run it! Sure, but then why were social media platforms offered as a free service in the first place?
And I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired of being on there in general, especially after our past year in lockdown. I was already quite bored and over with it already, and now I’m actually realizing how pointless it is to log on there. My nervous system can’t handle all the ads, nor the random stuff I’d never wanna see in the first place, And forget those 1-minute videos from wherever, I can’t even look at those at all. My body starts feeling terrible, I get dizzy from sensory overload because there’s so much stuff information packed in the tiniest amount of time, and who are these people I’m watching videos from anyway? I’d never want to watch them in the first place, why are they shoved in my face? The way the algorithm works is You’ll probably like this because thousands also have -and then the content I might actually be interested to see gets drowned over the principle of popularity.
The truth is, you’re probably creating remarkable, fabulous content, but these platforms are all numbers, and unless your numbers are the highest, you’re not getting the proper reach you could get.
Whoever says No, it’s about good content, isn’t aware at all of that reality, because the concept of good content is so unique to each individual, and there’s so much questionable content out there that stands as the most visited accounts or pages or whatever.
So no, it isn’t about the content. It’s really about the numbers.
Some people buy their followers, did you know this? Some people buy their likes and some people buy their views; there are the places called click-farms where people are hired to like and share and follow and watch. The easiest and fastest way to get wider reach? Buy yourself those numbers.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I still use social media as a networking tool, but I’m also spending more and more time contemplating ways I can replace it with.
Because social media takes us artists away from our art, simple as that.
And I’ve made a point throughout the years to always make every single thing I post a work of art, a piece of my art, of what I do, as much as I could, in every given circumstance. To try and make it fun, a brand so as to say -and above all, a way for me to still keep making art, even though what I was doing was marketing.
And I did that well, but it’s still not my art.
It’s AN art, but it’s not my art. Is it an art? A figure of speech -it is an art, or it could be a science.
It’s marketing and promotion and business. Those aren’t art.
Those are the exact opposite of what art is.
Social media posts become little commercials. Commercials, marketing, publicity, promotion, business.
Social media keeps us from losing ourselves, surrendering, completely abandoning ourselves to our art. Instead, they have us losing ourselves, quite literally, and surrendering to them, and abandoning our art, in the hope that someone new may end up discovering us right here and now, when they’re randomly looking around on the internet. Social media also has us giving everything away, all the time -especially as indie artists or self-employed/small business owners. We’re giving so much of our creative energy away, for free, all the time. It depletes us of our power.
I’m done with that now. For the past while, I’ve only ever been sharing if I feel like it, when I can. I won’t ever have a social media calendar anymore. I barely don’t want anything to do with it at all. I want my privacy, my life, my story back.
Data. They call it ‘data’. Who you are and what your life and what you like is data to them. You’re an consuming organism, an organism to which products must be fed. Here is another person consuming things. Tell us what you like, we will tell you what you need.
Consumerism, capitalism. Social media is now yet another industry-machine designed to get you to buy stuff.
So how do we change things for the better? Simple, we stop needing them. We stop consuming the product. So many products have come and gone, because people just stopped using them. We can do that with social media too. We just have to do it.
Just do it. Just stop.
Why are we even letting ourselves go through this anyway? Why are we allowing it to keep such a strong hold over ourselves and our work, despite what it’s become? Going back to my experience as an indie musician, when social media started, it was fine. It really was. MySpace was awesome on every level, and as a writer, I thought Twitter was great, and then when it started, facebook was actually good too. In fact, it was great -and then it wasn’t.
Suddenly, people weren’t seeing my posts anymore. Suddenly, the word algorithm became a thing to care, or worry, about. And suddenly, there were ads.
And suddenly, we could pay for people to see our posts.
And then, we had to pay for people to see our posts.
And of course, you pay 5$ once and your reach on that post is stellar; all your followers and friends see it. I remember thinking Alright, that’s fair. 5$ every once in a while is fine, whatever. But no. Your next promoted post won’t reach as many people as it did the first time you chipped in 5$. You’ll need to pay a bit more this time. 8$, 10$. And that’s it. That’s how they do it, and now, you’re fucked. You’ll now always have to give a little (or a lot) more money to facebook every time you wanna make sure people see your posts.
What was once a free online community platform is now a corporate networking-industry machine making profit off of you.
Let me repeat this.
This service was once free, and it got us dependent on it, and now it forces us to pay to be able to keep using it.
Forget people’s budgets. Forget artists’ statuses. This isn’t about any of this, and is the diversion, the lie, the veil over this truth: the truth that it got artists hooked and manipulated into paying for the service.
And oh, sure, you can get people to like and follow and subscribe and hit the notification button and there’s a bunch of highly elaborated posts that describe this with as many ‘how-to’ screencaps as you want, but frankly, that’s a lot, and people aren’t super likely to do that, and honestly, those posts are so hefty and long that most people can’t even get their brains to register any of that at all.
There’s a thousand solutions to be discussed. Here’s what I think. The answer is community. Dedicated people who care to see their scene thrive. People who actually take pride in being part of their alternative indie music community in their city. People who love the city they live in because of its quirks, what makes it special, unique and different. People who wanna be proud of being part of this alternative community of the indie scenes of all kinds, because this is what makes it special here in this city.
An alternative indie music community is where you’ll find the raw flavor, the real art and sound of a city. This is key, this precious experience of authenticity, everywhere you’ll ever travel to. When you travel, you wanna get a feel of the city, a real experience. You wanna know what it’s like to live here, what the people from here do during the day, and where they go out at night.
The underground is where you’ll find freedom.
The underground is where people come alive.
The underground is where people get real.
Underneath all the makeup and wonderful, outrageous takes on fashion, the underground is where people actually get a chance of being who they really are -or want to be, because somehow the fantasy can be real too. People get to be free to have fun exploring and revelling in who they really are.
It’s the darkness. The night and the darkness of the clubs and bars cloak you, soothe you, ease you into feeling safe to be who you really are.
And even if you’re working in a bar or a club or a venue of the underground -I’ve worked many times as part of the ‘crew’ of the underground- you get to still be yourself a bit, or a lot more than you ever could in any other job.
The kids have decided to bring back the 90s, and I’m honestly okay with it -except maybe for bucket hats. As a 90s kid myself, it makes me pretty happy to get to cherish that era all over again, but to honour its essence properly though, we gotta stop using social media. It wasn’t around back then, and life went about its course just fine.
Now, I’m not saying stop using the internet. The internet is fantastic. But email campaigns, mailing lists and actual websites can do the trick, when it comes to us artists sharing what we do. We don’t need to keep fighting the algorithm battles of social media. We can reinvest our energy in our underground indie music communities by creating spaces for us to share our art and our experiences, cultivating our relationships by showing up to each other’s shows or even just hanging out in these new spaces, whatever they are (as opposed to lock ourselves up at home behind our computers coming up with social media strategies), and above all, unite together to rethink the ways we take part in our collective.
Because what we need to nurture ourselves as artists is an underground scene that is sustainable, both in and of itself, but also for the individuals that make it whole. And that starts by making our person-to-person relationships stronger, and more important, than our relationships to our social media platforms.
We’ve all had enough.
Time for a Revolution.