A friend of mine recently encouraged me to write up some dating advice. I’m still wondering how he got it in his head that I know anything about dating. I do, in fact, suck at dating. Then again, I guess we all kinda suck at it; otherwise there wouldn’t be a market for dating advice columns. And Sex & the City wouldn’t have been as huge as it was. I’ll champion Carrie for making it ok to wear a bra with anything backless, strapless or skimpy but I’m not trying to claim the Sex & the City thing. That being said, take everything I say with a grain of salt, or pepper, or sand or whatever you want. Just don’t presume I know what I’m talking about. All I have is a decent vocabulary and a knack for grammar, the rest is nonsense.
Now that you’ve gotten the disclaimer, I guess I’ll move into a topic that’s been driving me up the wall lately: social media and your dating life. We’ve all done it, paid too much attention to what our crush is up to in the digital sphere. We’ve engaged in conversation with them on Facebook and Twitter and called it “talking.” Shit, even in the pre-Facebook days of yore, my high school boyfriend and I had mostly gotten to know each other on AIM before we entered into whatever comes after the “talking” stage.
Anyway, that digital social shit that us millennials do does not constitute talking, in my opinion. You need to move your mouth in order to talk. So if I write, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” I mean talk like on the phone, in person or with some other communication mode that involves ACTUALLY TALKING. When I say, “I’ll talk to you in a few days,” that doesn’t mean I’m not going to tweet some ridiculous Ron Swanson meme at you the next minute or that I’m not going to respond to that BuzzFeed article you emailed me about how Nickelodeon taught you to be a badass. It simply means, I don’t know when I’m going to talk to you but it would be cool if it was sometime in the near future. And it would also be cool if it didn’t involve memes or typing.
I think social media has contorted what a conversation actually is to the point where we don’t really know how to have them anymore. I’m sure I’m not the first person to explore this issue. But I kinda feel like I’m inadvertently exploring it all the time. As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been leaning on writing with technology to talk to boys since my earliest romantic endeavors and it’s not ‘cause I’m shy – far from it - it’s just ‘cause I’m guarded. Social media is all about being who we want to be. For that matter, textual conversation of any kind is all about being who we want to be. Not only can you edit what you say but you can shape who you are with visual and musical cues. You can shave away all of the mundane and flawed parts of your life, or theirs for that matter, and just put up all the cool and interesting stuff. But when you’re trying to really get to know someone, those selves we create in the digital world can really get in the way.
The flip side to that issue: go ahead and try not having a social media outlet and see how your dating ventures fare. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr – the list goes on – they all act as tools to whittle down your options because it’s also hard to really get to know someone when you only see them on a loud, dark dance floor. Social media is kinda like filling a party with just the people you choose.
I’m kind of a media junkie so I quite like being able to talk with, not just words, but videos, images and songs. And that’s really all that social media is anyway. It’s a bunch of people talking about all of the shit that they like. But add in the algorithms that govern what’s in your newsfeed and you’ve basically got a well-constructed tool to help you find someone you not only like, but are fascinated by. Now how does one keep the good and the bad of it all balanced, you ask? Hell if I know. I’m just a writer trying to figure it out.
I’ve been meaning to write this for a while now. But I keep putting it off for the very reason that I want to write it. I put it off for work. Though I’ve liked to consider myself a writer since the 3rd grade, I’ve never been able to actually own that title until now. And let me tell you, it’s not as glamorous as the 8-year-old me ever thought it would be. Sure, it has its moments like free Red Bull, guest list spots for after parties and bosses who keep bottles of expensive rum in their desk drawers. But most of the time, it’s just waiting for client approval until 6 pm on a Friday evening after having already worked a 50-hour week.
There was a time, not too long ago, only a year actually, when I was naïve enough to believe that I could pay all my bills, feed myself and handle the burden of my student loans by writing about one subject. Well, I only half believed that. I figured the other half of me could bartend to make ends meet. But after one too many douche-bag, cokehead managers rubbed me the wrong way, writing about toothpaste and cold sore medicine didn’t sound so bad.
There’s a popular culture sentiment that paints writers as crazy people. They’re a neurotic breed of humans, at once abrasively confident and also, utterly self-conscious. I can say from experience, as one writes more and more often, that persona becomes inescapable. A year ago, all I had to focus on was music. I could think about any stories I was working on at work ‘cause the work I did was essentially mindless. I had no idea how free my brain was at that time until I started working in advertising. Now I’m leaning closer to crazy.
Advertising demands that every part of your brain think about something different, all at the same time. And it demands that you keep up that capacity for thought processing 24/7. You’re working even when you’re not working.
James Joyce had a theory about language and literature that included all of the words that we see in our day-to-day lives as part of the literary fabric of our world. In other words, billboards are part of the same quilt as Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”, and traffic signs are right up there with the headlines on the front page of the New York Times. It makes sense that Joyce actually started his career as a copywriter.
Banksy once wrote, “The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists. Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little.”
I used that quote in a cover letter I wrote when applying for an internship at an advertising agency and I got the gig. That’s the funny thing about the ad world; it’s actually full of people who appreciate Banksy even if Banksy hates them and everything they produce. It’s all pretty humorous when - amidst the client demands, budget constraints, and endless pressure to make something out of nothing - you chill the fuck out and consider the big picture.
I’m not really complaining about my job. I’m just talking about it candidly. I am, in fact, still figuring out how to actually be a writer. Right now I get paid just enough to get by while clients pay the agency twelve times what the agency pays me for every hour I work. That’s not exactly a fair ratio but life’s not fair. All I know about being a professional writer is that I’m currently making a living, which is step one. I used to think that step one was getting published but that doesn’t mean shit when our world is overrun with the written word. Newspapers and magazines have a larger percentage of page space reserved for ads than for editorial content so I said, fuck it; if I can’t beat ‘em I might as well join ‘em.
That might be a kind of nihilistic approach to the craft, especially since I began this journey trying to comment on music and culture and now I’m just using that knowledge to make corporate America look cool. But slaving away to corporate America has its perks. Advertising has allowed me to touch every medium of media available. I don’t just have to write words on a page, I can see how language plays out on the screen. I get to sit in a recording studio and direct voice talent. We come up with full campaigns based on social media and make messaging three dimensional with experiential outdoor pieces. The world is one’s canvas and everyday a new app comes out that makes the fabric that Joyce talks about even bigger and thicker. For me, advertising has been something akin to taking a ride on Dr. Who’s Tardis. It’s given my world so many more dimensions than it originally had and I know that I’ll never be the same again.
But just like one of Dr. Who’s little human sidekicks, I’ve also lost touch with the more personal minutiae of life. I spend my days coming up with strategies that will allow messages to not only reach people on the other side of the world but also resonate with them in an emotional way. As I continue to talk to and at the world, I miss my real friends more and more. They’ve been swallowed up by the digital world that a lot of advertising focuses on. I see them in Instagram and on Facebook. They’ve become social media ghosts, or, rather, I’ve become a social media ghost.
I’m not really sure what’s gonna happen next in my life. The agency I’m at might decide to hire me and I have no idea how that will pan out. Although music never lost its priority status to me, it’s become just another digitally mediated love. I say that as I flit through Facebook and Soundcloud simultaneously looking for something to do on this Saturday evening, preferably something with humans, as I’d like to go out and make sure that I still am one.
“Funny people are the only people I ever get really interested in, because as soon as somebody isn’t funny, they bore me.” - Andy Warhol
I never reblog crap like this. I just secretly like it it and move along to more important things. But, in light of everyone talking about how good or bad or so-so they’re 2012 was, here’s mine in 7 words. 2013 will be no different. Happy New Year, people.
(Source: ikilledjackjohnson, via mebirsch)
Shadow Child and Horx feat. TK Wonder - Border Town (by ApolloRecrds)
She has the ‘tude of Azealia Banks but replaces the smut-dripping potty mouth with an ethnic and societal consciousness. Also, the bass is hard on this track.
Doves - Compulsion (Andrew Weatherall Mix) (by exiledlarky)
“this is for old 1990 ravers who have lost the ability to pivot on ankle and fulcrum with knee…” - NMWMN