(Background: I’ve been on this whole “wake up and be productive” kick for awhile and more often than not I end with pages of “writtens” in my notebook. Most often these ramblings are about the goings-on in my own life, but from time-to-time I tap into other more (or less) substantive ideas)
For the first time in quite awhile I’m cautious about using my voice. While my friends focused on being the next big artist, I was enamored with Dream Hampton’s work. From her early work in Vibe or The Source, she showed me there was a space within this culture to use my voice without ever having to touch a mic. Whether it was my work in college at the Indiana Statesman years ago, to writing for various music blogs (Big ups to the IMF & DJ Booth teams!) over the years, transferring the thoughts in my head to a finished product (and will always be) a release of sorts for me.
While Dream made me want to burn my notebook for years, there was no better feeling than knowing I bodied whatever piece I published and the subsequent love I’d receive from people near and far. I was never bold or ambitious enough to proclaim I spoke for anyone, but others did from time-to-time. I guess I was just able to articulate the thoughts of the voiceless in a way they could feel because it was coming from someone who thought like them and/or looked like them. No doubt — it was fun and while I see a space for myself to write on issues locally or nationally, I’m apprehensive. Things have changed my friends, things have changed.
I think it’s awesome that everyone has a voice — the onset of social media has given everyone a platform to express their thoughts, ideas and pains/possibilities. From those working to empower their communities to those seeking insight on substantive issues, these platforms allow a unique space for people to feel involved and empowered.
There’s a flip side to that coin…
Everyone has a voice, but that’s it — everyone has a voice. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, legit “on one” or not, everybody can get their points off. I’m not the one to judge or check a lot of these opinions, its not my place. I’m not a big fan of commenting on things that are going take me down a rabbit hole of nothingness (I’ve done and that’s when people fall into the “legit on one” category). I’m sometimes the guy who reads things and says, “woooooow that’s crazy,” but trust — I try my hardest to keep that part of me quelled.
Aside from a few dms and additional obligations, I took a break from social media last month and it was great (insert chef’s kiss gif). I felt more in the moment, more involved in real-life and honestly, the issues that were social media driven failed to exist. While I think we’re moving into a space where social media is much more prominent in the real world than we originally imagined, once that phone is put down, are those highly opinionated posts translating into something real? And if they are translating into something real, what are those real life consequences.
“Twitter fingers” are a real thing. As opposed to having a substantive conversation with an eye toward solutions we go back and forth because, well… that’s easy. From a petty standpoint, there are few things I enjoy more than a face-to-face meeting with those who seem so angry on the internet, but actually turn about to be nice and pleasant in real life.
I think we fail to understand the reach of these posts, tweets and tl;dr notes. You’ve got a voice, but how is it actually translating? To paraphrase Buns from Belly, “Shorty can’t eat no likes dog.”
While my own experiences provide a unique vantage point on these local elections I’ve been cautious as to not directly influence the conversation as these days I prefer to hear from others. The once voiceless collective of people have found their space and commendably they’re taking incredible strides in doing so.
But for those who are new (as I was years ago), social networks provide a false sense of reality. Preaching to the choir isn't shifting the culture, but creating spaces for new people to play a role in said shift — that’s where its at. If your social network is full of people who agree with you, the road ahead might be tough.
There’s a silent majority of people who are eerily quiet on many of the hot-button issues. There’s a silent majority of people who are doing the work, that question a lot of this over Mahi Mahi Tacos, Skirt Steak and Carriage House Margs. There’s a silent majority of people who read proposed policy pieces and say to themselves, “isn’t that already happening?” There’s a silent majority of people who have come into their own over the last few years and buck the traditions of old with each step they take toward new heights. There’s a silent majority who are more concerned with who isn’t in the room, than who is. There’s a silent majority working incredibly hard, who will never get the accolades, the appointments or the meetings, but the work wont stop.
I thought I would have a much larger hand in the discourse, but I’m finding a melancholy sense of solace watching from the sidelines.
…But in the same way shooters shoot, writers write.