Hunting the Digital Gazelle

At one point early humans spent a ton of time trying not to die.  I imagine it must have been extremely routine and frightening trying to maintain enough calories on the African plains, raise a family without being devoured by a host of fanged beasts, and if that didn’t kill you, the weather was ready to prepare you for the buzzards.  And here we are, by luck and by great effort settled into the neurotic adolescence of the 21st Century where our hunt has drastically changed. 

Our Serengeti, has become our Facebook news feed and Linked In profiles, and after a century of being collectively taught how to become our own marketing agency, our traps and our spears have become the content we use to entice the attention of a nebulous “other.”  I’ve battled my thoughts for years concerning this new world because my knee jerk reaction is that there is a tendency, due to the possibility of reward, to become masterful at psychological manipulation and it makes me ill at ease for several reasons.  But I gotta eat!

Much different than our ancestors who hid in the tall grass to make their moves, our presence must be known.  I’ve sat on the sidelines observing the fields, once in awhile casting a net hoping to gain some type of recognition for my musical wares.  In my resentment of this new landscape, because it sucks up so much time from what my craft actually is, I have kicked like a toddler against it until I decided to do it in my own way with my own voice and create something, hopefully a little less savage than what I often see.  A savagery that I believe originates in that insane subconscious that invisibly guides so many of our rash decisions.

So let’s talk about these tools we’re using and how we use them.  Tools like relevancy, analytics, social platforms, & click bait.  We shouldn’t lie to ourselves that it’s just about “connecting.”  It’s more.  It’s about putting food on our tables, electric bills, sending our kids to a decent school … creating the life we need and want.  And if we don’t analyze these tools that we must use, regardless of profession, there is a great probability that we won’t become great hunters and in the worst case scenario, that we lose a sense of humanity because we begin seeing everything, everyone in every moment … as prey.

When I finally began to take the plunge into the social media pool, I decided that the best way was to make sure that I would help as many people, specifically artists in all mediums, by sharing their upcoming events, releases, and success.  This made my scroll game much more efficient, and at the same time I was fighting another fight which was to expose the greatness of my city that very few people know about due to mainstream media being what it is.  In short, mainstream media has a certain authority over our thoughts about what success, power, and expertise looks, acts, and sounds like.  I have a very different view concerning those variables from what I was taught through television and radio and have suffered, like so many do, the pitfalls of personal and tribal identity.  And so I realized that, by actively involving myself in the social media world, I could broadcast my own channel full of great artists involved in every style of music and medium of art thereby exposing many people to worlds that until then had been off of their radar. 

I felt relieved after I had made this decision.  Jealousy along with the feeling of competition seemed to melt away.  As if there isn’t enough success out there for everyone?  There is.  No one has to be on bottom just so someone else can be better off.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Beyond that, it feels great to be of service helping out artists in even the smallest way.  And here’s the deal with that; my subjectivity does not get to be the judge of who I share.  It may not be my “thing”, but the world is full of great masters, who have worked very hard to develop techniques that are incredibly difficult to attain … but they were not always that great.  The support is what really matters when it comes to the guidance everyone needs on the road to becoming the best that they can be.  So make sure to share.

When the twin towers fell I had a terrible, but very true thought, “A lot of people are gonna make a ton of money off of this.”  Within the week, t-shirts with flags on them and some slogan concerning 9-11 were filling every kiosk I passed.  Koozies, pencils, bumper stickers … you name it and it was for sale.  Now I think there are 2 things going on simultaneously in this equation: 1) Commemoration and empathy combined with national pride 2) the hunt.  It is extremely important that I illustrate clearly how different the last 200 years have been for mankind.  It was pretty simple for most of human evolution; food = plants & animals and if you could maintain your calories, you had a decent chance of survival.  And survival = success.  The drastically different and complex modern equation is something like this, though incredibly simplified for brevity; money = food and if we get our money from other people, the way in which we hunt is ever more by psychological means.  Now, I’ll admit that I’m not a sociologist or historian, but what I will say is that I was right about those 9-11 t-shirts, and I continue to see a certain amount of “relevancy” traps set everywhere I look.  Using, tragedy and death in a self-serving manner because it makes us look “in-touch” with the world is perverse.  So when those weasely little thoughts enter our minds and we go on that journey to justify our earning potential, the saying “the road to hell is paved in good intentions” rings too loud with truth. 

No one wants to feel left out so we tend to offer our 2 cents, but in the end will it pay off to constantly try to chase some fame carrot with another Adele “Hello” rendition.  I sincerely doubt it.  I see this everywhere and it saddens me that every publication wants to stir up the same dramatic current event, not to speak about it in any new way but just as a source of click-bait drivel.  Poorly written, preying upon our fears, dumbing down the multitude of dimensions driving any topic from public breast-feeding to American race relations.  They go right to our emotions, make us feel all pumped up with righteous indignation and end it as if they’ve wrapped it all up in a nicely tied bow. 

What I have sacrificed in my own life thus far from trying to be relevant to a group or to my time is this; I’ve wasted a lot of time and money thinking about the way that I appear to the rest of the world.  I have insulted my self and my family and friends by betraying what my inner voice whispers, and has to often scream.  Entire hierarchies have been formed in my head about my worth compared to others and their worth compared to mine … and it just isn’t worth it.  Don’t be relevant be you, because the search for truth doesn’t have an expiration date. 

Analytics are a good thing for the hunter.  We’ve always used them to measure success and I sincerely hope everyone becomes more effective using social media especially if they are conscientious about it.  There’s an algorithm everywhere that makes it either possible or impossible for you to get through to a public that belongs to a larger group.  I can always count on my mom and grandma to “like” my posts, but that’s really not going to sell records I assure you.  What we’re all looking for is breakthroughs; some virality miracle as if a million views means anything long term at all.  It’s more important, long term to be honest and create miracles for other people because truth be told … people want to work with their talented friends.  That’s right.  It all takes a team to make “it” work, and given the opportunity to lead or serve a team, I’d rather work with my super-talented friends.  Or at least I might be in a position to recommend them for a gig.  By the way, the share button is very powerful because it breaks the algorithm.  It would be like The Simpsons being broadcast on NBC and CBS.  Right now you’re just on one little channel, but you definitely have power.

When do we strike our digital gazelle and when do we remain in the shadows.  I will say this, depending on who you talk to and how often you post you might show up on their feed depending on the algorithm, you may altogether be invisible or much too prominent.  Whatever it is that you post, I encourage everyone to be a lighthouse of positive ideas and if critique is necessary, be thoughtful and courteous in your attempts to gain recognition & be aware that not everyone uses the net for the same purposes that you do.  In any case, your audience will not know that you exist if you don’t show your presence, and in whatever way that you do will certainly affect someone’s response or level of interest.  There are far too many artists in this world that just won’t show their brilliant work.  They are gifted, they are thoughtful, but lack the confidence to move forward as a hunter because on some level I believe there are those, like myself, who see what’s going on in terms of our modern sense of hunting and they refuse to take part … or they just lack the confidence that they have worth. 

A great hunter needs rest.  You can’t chase wildebeests all day and not take time to go for a swim, play with your kids, and eat your kill, but we’ve got this problem of when to turn off the screen.  Is it good for me to use all my subconscious seconds asking my self “should I be recording this?”  Can we truly indulge in eating our meal if we have to make ourselves a public sight that eats?  This goes way beyond if I care to see your sandwich, again these patterns are subconscious.  This is deep seeded stuff here that I don’t think we truly understand yet.  It has to do with tribal acceptance, with survival, stability, self-worth, and initiation rituals.  A behavioral evolution is taking place before our eyes and it is absolutely necessary to ask our selves, and each other, ‘what is this and why are we doing it and for what’? 

I was told once to Always Be Capturing (ABC’s of marketing).  For proof to the world that I do something interesting?  That I’m alive and have worth?  To gain a sense of meaning for myself from some “other,” hopefully coupled with a sale.  Now this can come off seeming rather curmudgeon like and possibly counter to the whole “be a good hunter” thing that I’m trying to illustrate, but how many horrible concert videos have I seen with terrible audio and video that would drive any epileptic into fits.  So many!  And could that time have been better spent, enjoyed more, by letting that moment just wash over you.  Not only are we feeling compelled to take terribly boring and grainy photos and video but then we feel like it would behoove us financially and socially to publish these collections for people to digest. 

So by all means, you’re an artist or small business owner and you need to make sure that people know that you exist, but do your best to make artistic choices in the content you try to capture and publish, but most of all … use your time where you need it most.  Frontline’s “Generation Like” clearly uncovers that we have a severe neurosis in America concerning screen addiction coupled with isolation.  Feelings of self-worth entangled in how many digital pats on the back we get.  Selling every scrap of personal struggle you’ve encountered that could possibly gain merit on some demographic checklist.  There are mountains of skill and technique required for longevity.  How much focus and momentum are we sacrificing to tap into our devices to get a sense of connection to a wall of others that may have a positive opinion about your recent update. 

There are definitely grey areas here in this electronic wilderness.  If I seem harsh, it’s a harshness directed at a specific aspect of marketing and social media.  A bias exists no doubt rooted in my upbringing and my generation.  There are positive attributes that I cannot see that I’m sure my daughter or perhaps you the reader will expose me ideas that will evolve my thoughts concerning social media.  But our brains can only evolve on universe time, and I feel we are still operating on some primal levels here.  Maybe we can tap into ourselves enough to say, “hey what the hell are you doing?” but we are much too far from Vulcan to relax the firm grip that we must have on the responsibility and reasons for our thoughts and actions.