Common Sense (Or “How to Be a Music Fan on Social Media”).

As a professionally amateur music blogger, I would say that most of the people I follow on Twitter have something to do with music, be that as a performer, a label, or a fan. Most of the time, this allows for a lot of interesting discussion, debate, excitement, and enticement. The Internet is very liberating when it comes to expressing yourself and following your interests. But oh. Oh, the pitfalls.

I was inspired to write this today when someone I follow (a manager, not a celebrity) asked for movie recommendations out of three possible choices. He settled upon viewing one. Someone didn’t like that, so rather than, I don’t know, taking a breath or doing something else productive, replied to him, “whatever kill yourself you retarded lard.” I’m not naming names or including links because I don’t want to give her more attention. When people started to respond to that aggression, she took two paths: being proud that she’d been noticed and being indignant that her “joke” was misunderstood. Maybe since I’m on the downward slope to 28, I no longer understand “the kids” and how they communicate with aggression even regarding people they’ve never met and whom they supposedly admire. Maybe the more popular celebrities are, the more likely these really weird messages. Have no fear, I have suggestions that will help you look like a saner fan in five easy steps.

1. Don’t use hate language. Why does this even have to be said? It’s the online equivalent of throwing rocks at your dad’s motorcycle or chopping off all your sister’s hair while she sleeps to get attention. Being noticed is a reward in itself, right? Um, no. Bullying is ugly and disgusting, and when you make “jokes” like telling, say, Groot to kill himself, Groot isn’t going to like that very much. Chances are Groot won’t reply to you over it (since his vocabulary is limited to “I am Groot” and all), but you might catch the eye of someone on a smaller scale or incite other fans to get upset. It’s just stupid. If a teacher assigned you homework you didn’t like, would you tell him or her to go die? No, because there are consequences. You don’t think about consequences online, but you should. Spoiler alert: You’re not going to be One Direction’s new best friend by being a dick to them online. Also, white people? STOP USING ANY VARIANT OF THE “N” WORD. You know what I’m talking about. I see teenagers banter with it on social media all the time. It’s not cute or ironic or reclaiming a word. Just shut the fuck up.

2. Don’t “COME TO (INSERT COUNTRY HERE).” You know what’s incredible about tours? The fact that they are scheduled months in advance because venues, equipment, crew, and more must be arranged in order for everything to work. When you shriek about being denied tour dates, what you’re saying is basically, “I have no interest in what you’re doing right now. Mememememe. You don’t matter to me unless you’re in front of me so I can try to steal the shirt off your back.” Try to imagine having a conversation with someone like yourself. (All examples are chosen at random, and I have nothing against people in said regions.)

Friend: Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet?
You: COME OT ARGENTINA!
Friend: What does that have to do with anything?
You: WE LUV YUO IN MILAAAAAN!
Friend: That’s not even spelled right.
You: IF YOU DON’T PLAY IN LONDON AND MAKE IT ALL AGES ILL KILL YOUR GF’S DOG.

And so on. Going directly to the source isn’t going to get you jack shit unless they specifically ask you where they should do something like busk or if they decide to have a social media Q&A session. I understand your pain, I do. I grew up in West Virginia. Do you know who toured in my town when I was a kid? 98 Degrees. That is it. Did I see any concerts as a teen? Not until college. Now I sometimes get to go to shows for free! You can live the dream one day. Be patient and stop using your location as a greeting.

3. Don’t spam. I don’t know how this started to get popular. Is it because of trending topics? Maybe I should blame hashtags. Mostly, I blame people. If you set up a separate Twitter account simply to bombard someone else, you are a Grade A asshole. There’s really not wiggle room here. Celebrities do not have the time to read every single tweet/message/smoke signal. They might not ever answer, or they might just answer a select few. Resist the urge to just send out a constant stream of the same fucking thing in order to be seen. Your idol will not think Wow, I simply admire this person’s tenacity and adoration! They will think something more along the lines of Haven’t I seen this before? This is annoying or I’m getting way too many messages. Fuck this. I’m going to go be famous now with other famous people. You screw over others and yourself, and you’re the one left looking stupid.

4. Don’t ask them to follow you. This is such a weird, modern bragging right of sorts. As far as I can understand, the more famous a person is, the more elite it is to be followed by them. Beeeecause why? They might see your embarrassing, hysterical tweets of ‘hOGM TAY LOR IS TWET ING IRHT NOW!” (You should really not act like that either, for what it’s worth, but I know that I don’t have enough brain bleach to go around.) Despite infinitesimal chances of mere plebs being followed by the stars, people still ask for this. People who are followed offer to spam the inboxes of the mighty with lists of more people they ought to follow. (Does that ever even work?) Twitter or Facebook will never make them leapfrog into your actual, personal social circle. It translates to nothing of substance outside the screen. Let it happen if you are a magnet of awesome, but don’t ask for it. You are not distinguishing yourself as worthy if you have to beg.

5. Don’t be fucking creepy. I thought I’d end on a note as obvious as my first. Sometimes people have good intentions. Misguided ones, good ultimately good. They find inspiration in a person’s writing. It changed/saved/brought meaning to their life. In return, they just want to share a bit of this changed/saved/meaningful life with the person who made all this possible. And so every tweet tags a musician and is directed to them like a protracted poem of longing. Here I am in Florida, and I am without you, Fabio. Look at this bacon, Lou Bega, for it reminds me of your smile (yes it does!). Tapping into who I really am. Corsets rox. Thx 4 the confidence B*witched! On the one hand, it’s a little oblivious and sad, but on the other, we really should know better. Responding to posts in a topical manner is great and encouraged! Interact to your heart’s delight. The occasional quip thrown their way or even a heartfelt message can be fantastic. Just don’t make your online life all about one person/group and one person/group only. It’s like standing outside someone’s window and drawing pictures in the condensation left behind by your breath. Friends, no one likes a mouth breather. Just think, okay?

Now, friends, you are a bit more socially aware! Go forth and tweet smarter, or stay brilliant if you already are. Just don’t direct any hate at me, particularly if you aren’t able to embrace your backspace or shift keys.

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Embrace Quitting. Alternative Title: Fuck It.

Summer in New York City has been mercifully mild as far as the heat goes, but a dense humidity has kept most of us scrambling from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned building, forever packing a cardigan just in case. My apartment can feel like you’ve been wrapped in plastic and left to sweat no matter how closely you sit in front of a fan. The pressure of hazy days gives me a headache that makes me prone to distraction, and no matter how I want to start writing, I can’t seem to get my brain in order for the job. It’s been a laborious summer of tiny setbacks and frustrations, but I’m powering my way through a gloomy day headache here and now. 

I can be a stubborn individual as well as someone wedded to routine because there’s comfort in familiarity. I’ve been struggling with writer’s block on a project because I’m not sure if I should stay close to the characters or make a Grand Political Statement with a dystopian setting. I’m a huge lover of dystopian literature, and now seems like a great time to take a stand with the way women’s reproductive rights have been routinely attacked in America as of late. But I’ve also never written anything while deliberately thinking, “Here, THIS is my theme!” As an English major, I always felt like a bit of a fraud when writing essays picking out those strands because I could hardly envision the greats wanting to say something deliberate more than simply tell a story. Now I have the urge, and I now I have to approach the writing with more care than my usual, haphazard “write it and never look again in shame” style. If I go that path. I’ll get past this fork in the road, but it’s okay to fail at it for a while.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately: the act of quitting, the ending of things. A friend of mine recently gave me a book called Fuck It. It’s “spiritual” in the sense that it borrows much from Eastern religious practices, but the main idea is to say “fuck it” to the stresses and unimportant hangups of our lives. Some things aren’t quite as simple as the book makes it out to be, and you can tell that the author isn’t America since nowhere does he address the lethal consequences of abandoning your student loan debt and pretending it will just go away. Still, even if I think some of his ideas are a bit too pie in the sky (most of us can’t just quit a job or move to another country just because we feel like it, because money), it’s a smart practice to apply every day. The MTA has messed up yet again? Fuck it. People in New York are rude? Fuck it. Work was stressful? Fuck it. I can’t remember the last time I went to the gym and feel guilty? Fuck it. I’m a sadder, more anxious person than I let on, but it does help to at least try to remember the power of perspective.

Right around when I was finishing that book, I received news that a dear friend of mine is facing a health scare of sorts. I won’t go into detail to respect her privacy, but we talk on a nearly daily basis, so I care very much. It’s awe-inspiring to see someone take this news and, yes, struggle, but also come to the best choice for her body and her quality of life while planning other things in her life, things meant to bring joy. She keeps coming up with these ridiculous things to do soon and while on the mend: paddle board yoga, a party, a tattoo, an ’80s movie marathon. Nothing really brings life into perspective like those big issues. When life itself is on the line, it really doesn’t matter if you wear the same pair of pants two days in a row.

This week, a friend lost her grandfather, and then I arrived home to the news that Robin Williams had taken his own life. There is no shortage of grim, depressing, overwhelming news every day, but Robin Williams really hit home for me. Aladdin was the first movie I ever saw in theaters, and so many of his films were important to me as a kid: FernGully, Hook, Jumanji, Jack, Flubber, Popeye. He struggled with demons, as the saying goes, for so many years, and even bringing such joy to so many people through his warmth and humor wasn’t enough to balance out the effects of his illness.

Before I heard the news, I was struggling with the idea of dropping a book I was reading. I was over three hundred pages in, but I just wasn’t enjoying myself. I am a fan of the snarky read and the hate read, but this was neither. I appreciated nothing but knew that some friends enjoyed the book. Every page made me avoid reading rather than face it. I went to The Strand after work to pick up some new novels I promised myself I could have once I was through with my chore. Then there was that stark reminder that life is a short, unpredictable journey. Why make it harder? I gave up. It happens. I’m reading a new book now (The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce, who is a wonder if you’ve never encountered him), and my day started out with so much more energy and joy because of it.

I guess what I’m getting to, sorely neglected blog, is that we have no guarantees in life. Sometimes we just have to indulge ourselves, even if that means walking away from stories until we’re sure we can get them right. We’re really the only ones in charge. Take your time, if it means you aren’t going to waste it.