Things seem to pass so fast on the internet, especially the various social-networking websites that seem to be all the rave of anybody under forty. I tend to be pretty uninspired (maybe even a little bit intimidated, frightened, and lazy too) by things that beckon me to spend even more time online than I already do, and thus I've been relatively late to get on board with the social-networking sites of our times. One minute everybody is crazy about Friendster, then it's MySpace, only to have that replaced with Facebook, which seems to have left MySpace strangely passe in the past few months, likening it to a once indie band that is just not what it once was.
Once I stopped holding out, I remember being genuinely excited about the possibilities of MySpace... I found a few people I didn't expect to find and spent a lot of time going to people's pages, listening to their music, and would even check most every friend request that came my way, with the same hopes that people were checking mine. Just a year later, it all feels strangely dead to me, and slightly loathsome. It feels like most people have moved on, and it's become yet another e-mail account that I have to check regularly, on the off-chance that someone has used it to contact me for work, which has happened a few times and is certainly a good thing. I'm not quite sure what Facebook offers that's so different or new, but it leads me to think that maybe we're all seeking something that just can't be found online, something based more actual human warmth and connection, somewhere we can share music without it being so shrouded in self-promotion. Maybe this unsatisfied desire keeps us flocking from one site to another. Or maybe it's all just for dating... who knows? In the end, maybe we're all just excited by online presence, where we can show people what we want them to see (none of those awkward smiles that take place when we actually see people in passing), where we know people from our distant past (and maybe even that attractive person from the bar whose number we lost) can find us. For musicians today, any online presence is a good thing, so it seems hard to justify not spending an hour or two setting up a page (or a blog, shame, shame, shame). Certainly these sites are compelling in a lot of ways and still free(!), but the way in which users flock from one to the other every few months leaves me thinking that in the end, they're places that largely remind us of our loneliness (or if you're a musician using them, the fact that you might not be performing as much as you would like to). Are we really happy, absorbed, gratified being when we spend an hour modifying our profiles? What are we really expecting from all this time we spend socially-networking online?
Oh well.... off to check my latest friend requests.