Nov. 9th, 2015

angstzeit: (Eye1)
If I was as brilliant in foresight as I am in hindsight, I could have told you how this world wide web / social media thing would work out. Back the late 80s I was in a "band" called Pavlov's Industrial Sarong (I've written about it before, here). We were an odd band that played odd music but, oddly, we played several shows, occasionally to appreciative people.

But there was this one show ... It was a basement party in Carbondale, IL--somewhere on Beverage Street, I think. I'm fairly sure having a band at the party at all was an afterthought so we just set up in a corner and played some stuff while most of the people went right on partying; paying us no mind. Being young, idealistic types, we had at some point hatched the idea of having audience members participate in the band. In theory (and possibly stoned), this seemed like a nifty idea--at worst cacophonous, at best some exploration of the innate musicality in everyone. It didn't go quite as expected.

We announce this over the PA and invite people to come up and play our instruments. And right away we've got volunteers. However, instead of the sheepish but curious people we naively expected, we got several stultified rock stars--cocky guys who had probably been thinking, "I'm better than these schmucks!" and, "I bet I could get laid if I was in a band."--strutting up; eager for their opportunity to wow the crowd. Of course, chaos immediately ensued. We've got four or five front-men all trying to corral the others into following them. They're all trying to play whatever rock tune they'd half-assed learned to cover. No one remotely interested in listening or cooperating. It was painfully hilarious.

The problem, of course, was that we believed people would be interested in creating an enjoyable experience for everyone, and I'm sure there were people there who would have. But they would never have a chance because the people who always grab the microphone first are the narcissists, the attention seekers; the sort of people who were only interested in showing off and/or wowing some chicks.

So now we have the internet, the web, social media, etc. And essentially it's the same as the professional media saying, "Hey, c'mon up and play our instruments!" And, while there's a lot more instruments to play and a lot more people participating, it is still the egotists and manipulators that crowd the front and yell the loudest. We always have hopes for the voice of the people to be heard. But even if you rid yourself of the great dictators, the petty ones are waiting in the wings.

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