Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What Happened to the Chorus?

Having grown up before this enhanced digital age, or any digital age, for that matter, there was always an understood hierarchy of things. There was the standout performer who stood alone in the spotlight backed happily by a strong chorus. The chorus enjoyed the shadows, keenly aware that the only way to remain on stage was to offer support to the most talented and charismatic one--The Star. On occasion, a member of the chorus made the leap to center stage through hard work and determination and a bit of serendipity in the form of a broken leg or strained vocal chords. 

In today's world of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, excessive self-promotion has assured everyone a spot on center stage. The spotlight has become a floodlight and the shadows of the chorus are all but non-existent. Everyone is singing their solo at the same time, in different keys, and the result is a screeching cacophony of sounds.

Social media's relentless hype toward self-promotion has made everyone into a star, whether they deserve the title or not.  Simply shout louder and more frequently than the person next to you, and voila--instant name recognition.

I agree that social media has a place and its advent can be extremely helpful in highlighting undiscovered talent. It has value. It's a great voice for the people to be heard and create a dialogue about what matters. A tweet that shares a wry observation on a relatable topic is a welcome respite from the mundane. But just because someone has figured out a way to shout louder than everyone else doesn't mean they are worth listening to. To wit, it's also important to remember that a world without social media would be a world without the runaway hit of Shades of Grey or Occupy Wall Street. Take that any way you want....But the point is that quantity of followers doesn't always translate into deserving success. 

We used to disdain the person calling attention to themselves as desperate and cheap, like the girl in class who waved her hand excitedly as if to compel the teacher to 'pick her! pick her!' Interestingly enough, that girl didn't always have the right answers. Oftentimes the correct answer was given by the girl sitting just behind her who was obscured by the overeager student. 

But if there is so much self-promotion and self-interest, can the most self-absorbed amongst us be trusted to notice anyone else? It takes an awful lot of energy to shout "Look at me! Look at me!" the result being that there is little time to look at anyone else.

And that's a pity.

Yes, social media definitely has a place. We just have to figure out where that is, exactly.

Yes, many of us have succumbed to the vast, uncharted territory of cyberspace, but I believe weariness is beginning to set in.  Mozart never had a facebook page or a twitter account and neither did Hemingway or Sinatra, well, you get the point. 

So you over there, the one flailing your arms wildly, please remember to use your inside voice and could you just take two steps to your left?

There's someone right behind you that I've been interested in meeting.

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