Twitter has been rapidly going the way of Myspace since the day it became the personal treehouse of everybody’s least favourite billionaire who isn’t orange. You can definitely feel the vital life force sucked out of The Bird since the takeover. In light of this unfortunate turn of events, I’ve been actively shopping around for alternate platforms to document this grandiose journey I have planned for the upcoming academic off-season.
I’ll probably hold my nose and post more on Instagram, even though I utterly can’t stand its superficial culture. Many moons ago, I came upon the Insta page of a perfect stranger with a long-forgotten handle whose feed was one of many I was browsing at random one night to get a sense of what sort of things people post on the ‘Gram. One of her posts was a lengthy heartfelt meditation concerning her grandfather’s then-recent Stage IV cancer diagnosis. While there’s certainly something to be admired about the guts it takes to write of things so personal and tragic in a public forum visited by millions daily, the strength of her message was instantly derailed by the accompanying image — a completely non sequitur goofy selfie taken with some filter that gave her cat whiskers or some shit. You got the sense that the whole point of mass communication was completely lost on her. Of course most of the comments revolved around how pretty she was.
This would ordinarily be the date I start re-posting the chapter(s) from SILVER BROWN I tweeted two months previously on Facebook, at a rate of one page a day. But I’ve decided not to do that this time around. For a couple of reasons. The first reason is I think a major societal backlash against Facebook is just around the corner. Social media in general, but especially Facebook. My Spidey-sense is tingling, and it’s telling me conditions are ripe for the Old Zuckerverse to be reduced to something akin to the hair metal of mass communication within a few years.
For all the young folks in the audience who thought that last sentence was written in Martian, a brief history lesson. In ancient times, when a completely different racist old coot with a background in show business was leader of the free world (a coot who was at least somewhat respectable on account of being a World War II veteran, unlike the soon-to-be-ex-guy), hair metal was all the rage. It was a time when being in a band gave a dude a legitimate excuse to wear spandex and lipstick. Sweet memories. Alas, that era came to an end when the aforementioned old coot (gracefully) left office, and a new decade dawned. In the rays of that new sun, hair metal evaporated in a gust of cultural irrelevance. It was seen as a hackneyed relic of the decade that was, so it was tossed aside and forgotten like a used condom. Today, millions of children will likely live their entire lives having never learned there was ever a band called Quiet Riot…
We now see a new sun about to rise, reminiscent of the one that rose all those many years ago. When I think of cultural phenomena of the last decade that could end up going the way of hair metal in the new decade, Facebook almost always tops the list. I foresee it will become another tobacco industry. There used to be a time (long before I was born) when smoking cigarettes was considered sexy. They were actually advertised as being good for your health. Now, just about every national government slaps some kind of warning label on cigarette packages, actively discouraging their citizenry from taking up the habit.
Another reason why I’ve decided to forgo posting another chapter on Facebook is because I think Twitter is overall a better medium for this sort of thing. SILVER BROWN is still very much so a work in progress. Posting excerpts of my writings on social media is one of the means I employ to drink the vibes of my audience. Not everything I write is going to be brilliant. But if I tweet something that sucks ass today, I can at least rest assured the world will forget about it tomorrow, if not later on today (unless I run for political office, and like hell I’d ever do that). Facebook’s modus operandi is very different. In some ways, the complete opposite. They love to regurgitate posts from the distant past, your actual desire to revisit them be damned. If the Zuckerverse is privy to something I posted that sucks ass, it will suck ass for many years to come.
Henceforth, my Facebook page will be little more than a token presence, until the inevitable arrival of the Nevermind that kills off the whole platform. It’ll have my blog posts on it, but not much else. More chapters are due to be unveiled in the new year, but those chapters shall only be tweeted.
I did toy with the idea of establishing more of a presence on Instagram, but decided against it. The Gram has the social dynamic of a neverending virtual high school prom, methinks. Literature of any sort is seemingly not something that would interest that particular crowd. They like shiny things. The handful of authors’ Instagram feeds I have seen feature the same old barrage of selfies, vacation pictures and foodporn that everybody and their grandma posts. What in the Sam Hill is the point of that? Do you really want to see a hundred pictures of my face?
Facebook is like a knife. It can either be a tool or a weapon, depending on the intent of the person wielding it. The problem with their whole business model is that Zuckerberg operates like a unwashed crazy man in a trenchcoat who lives in his van and hands out knives like candy to all the kids in the neighbourhood. With little concern for the consequences. Educating the kids on responsible knife use is always somebody else’s job, and it’s even economically beneficial to encourage knife fights every once in a while in order to draw a large crowd.
The questionable business practices of the guy who gave me this knife aside, I may as well put it to good (i.e. not evil) use. Spreading some of that good literary Nutella all over the bread of the Internets. Specifically, an encore presentation of the tenth and eleventh chapters of SILVER BROWN. One page a day, as usual. Designated in the book as Chapters Niner (not a typo) and Ten. Because the first chapter is Chapter Zero – an allusion to computer science, in keeping with the story’s theme.
These chapters got a better reception on Twitter the first time out than I thought they would, all things considered. I’ll probably do a bit more editing on them down the road, just not now. The storyline involves my main character swallowing something which brings out some of the uglier aspects of her personality. Kind of like the way some people get when they have their third stiff drink of the evening in one hand and their smartphone in the other.
I wasn’t sure what kind of public appetite there would be for such a plot development, in light of the sheer magnitude of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot the world has seen lately. The other day I read of the man who gave us the darkly brilliant Black Mirror, who recently announced his decision to postpone production of a new season. Not merely because of the coronavirus, but more so because he felt Black Mirror couldn’t possibly compete with the level of melancholy in the current real world. I ultimately decided not to pull a Charlie Brooker. If this or any other yarn was all unicorns and rainbows and sunshine, it would be überboring as a story.
Speaking of Black Mirror, the whole eerie quotient is part of what I love about it. A lot of the episodes could plausibly happen next week. Behold, the very essence of Instagram culture, magnificently captured on celluloid…