Archive for January, 2013

What is Hip? Tell Me Tell Me if You Think You Know

CharlesMingus.MingusAhUmIt’s pretty easy to understand the purpose of the recent viral Facebook poll, “100 Influential Albums” from the perspective of the creator. The quiz has links to buy all of those listed through Amazon, and the data mining of personal information is a goldmine. But  the motivation behind those taking the quiz to me is much more telling.

These sorts of quizzes and polls are becoming increasingly popular on the social networks as the sheer numbers of people willing to share just about anything about themselves publicly becomes a virus of its own. But why are we so drawn to these public displays of hipness?

Many I imagine do so merely out of curiosity. Wanting to know what these records are and whether we may have missed something that we “should have”, thus filling in an empty spot in our own cultural landscape. But one could find countless other lists that could help one accomplish this. Rolling Stone has it’s 500 Best Recordings of All Time, as does NME with theirs, “100 Best Albums Of All Time” How about 100 Best Lists of 100 Best Albums of All Time? Google that, I haven’t the time.

I believe that these polls work because of our need to be hipper than others. In the social world of Facebook, Twitter and Yelp where we share every last sound, bite and image that we experience, the only thing that makes us feel like an individual is doing, hearing seeing or tasting something that no one else (or any of our friends) have. The fact that I may own even 20 out of these 100 should make me feel better, because that’s better than 45% of others who have taken the poll. These numbers matter. To know that having only 1/5th of these recordings puts me above 45% of others? That’s validation. Imagine how good one could feel if they had say 60 or 70 percent of these? So maybe the tendency would be to work the numbers. I mean who “owns” records anymore? Sure I have heard and once owned “Trout Mask Replica“, but with music streaming services like MOG and Spotify amongst others, we can all “own” them all, or more accurately own none of them.

But boasting your personal numbers is not enough reason for many. No, the hipness level continues to rise above your percentile score, when you shout from your social mountain top that the list itself sucks. How on earth can “Clap Your Hands Say Yah” be on this list when there’s no mention of Charles Mingus’s, “Ah Uhm“? No metal bands? C’mon. No Sgt. Peppers? I am hipper than the list itself.

Did I take the quiz? Yes. Did I agree with the list? Some of it. How did I do? Well show me yours and I’ll show you mine. At least I won’t try and sell you something.

Now that we’ve met…

Hey wait ! Come back! Yeah you, the one that just read my blog. Who are you? What were you looking for? How did you find me and will you be coming back? And why didn’t you say hello?

It is not as if we are complete strangers anymore, you read my words. We just “met”.

It would be different if say we were in the street, say in a public square and you were looking around to meet someone. You had someone in mind, but was it me? There are people everywhere, surrounding us. Faces in a crowd don’t have keyword bubbles above their heads, nor is there a live action “search” option to find out what we might have in common, not to mention whether I might be dangerous. But we did meet, in a safe place. On my blog.

But you left without saying anything. Nothing at all. Was I not who you thought I might be? After reading maybe the first paragraph, did you just move on? Was I boring? Or maybe not the subject matter you were looking for. And what exactly were you looking for? I’d love to know.

You might have been looking for a job candidate. I could be that. I work hard, and am always looking for an opportunity that would enrich both myself and my employer. And if that’s the case, I probably failed the first interview. Which is unfortunate, because I never got to know you. We never had a conversation.

Maybe you just followed a link on my Twitter or Instagram pages, email signature or any other number of social media sites where I am present. If so, I’d love to know what I said, linked to or posted about that motivated you to go that one step further to read my blog. Even if you don’t like my blog.

There is no implied agreement in social media that you reply to what anyone says. If however we were face to face and I said something, I would expect a response. And you probably would say something, unless I was a raving lunatic and you felt the need to just run as fast as you could in the other direction. In hindsight a raving lunatic would probably get more response in social media venues than in public which is evidenced by the comments sections of many blogs.

Truth be told, I could find out how you found me, how long you stayed and where you went when you left. But honestly, that does not interest me. It’s not enough for me. I’d prefer we start a conversation. After all, you did hear what I just said didn’t you?


As Bill Tweets

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