No, this post is not about Elastica stealing the opening riff of Wire’s “Three Girl Rhumba” from Pink Flag.  I’ve already made my peace with that.

This is about social connection.  I was just thinking about this earlier this morning…I’ve had this nagging feeling for ages that there was an actual reason behind my wasting so much time refreshing my Twitter feed.  The obvious answer is that I like staying in touch with all my friends, especially now that they’re all on the east coast and I’m on the opposite side of the country.  But there’s got to be more than that.  I’m usually on top of my stupid occasional timewasting addictions — playing with my mp3 collection, watching YouTube videos, looking up what’s playing on the station I’m currently listening to — and I know that my threshold is about fifteen to twenty minutes before I automatically start guilting myself into getting some actual work done.

But what is it with Twitter that I keep wanting to update the feed so frequently?

I think I figured it out, and I wrote it down in my personal journal: Twitter today is lunch period back in high school.

It’s definitely got to do with staying in touch with my friends back east, there’s no denying that.  A lot of these friends are connected to my circle of friends from my junior year in high school, either directly or indirectly.  And back then, back when I was a spotty nerd weirdo wearing Cure and PiL tee shirts and having given up on trying to fit in with the popular cliques, the lunch period was the primary time I could hang out with said friends when we were in school.  I really looked forward to hanging with them, even if it was just for twenty minutes a day.

Sure, we’d cross paths in the hallway, or meet up during a study hall.  The occasional after-school get together and the weekend trips down to Amherst were a bonus.  Back then we didn’t have the instant gratification of social media on the internet — hell, my family didn’t have DSL until 2000 or so — so we made do with the moments we were given.

We never quite lost touch in those pre-social media days, even when we were no longer nearby and some of us were too broke to stay with AOL, let alone make a phone call.  We emailed, even snail-mailed each other occasionally, and I would even make a few roadtrips out their way on my vacations.

Live Journal changed that, when I reconnected with a large number of them on a social media level.  Then, a few years later, Twitter and Facebook made the contact more immediate, and it’s been like that ever since.

This social evolution took so many slow and deliberate steps that it’s just like anything else I do over a long period of time.  I don’t always notice the subtle changes and the current level I’m at.  So it’s not as if I’m stalking all my friends or have no IRL of my own…we’ve just been connected at a consistent level for so long, I don’t always notice why I keep refreshing the feed.  Passive addiction.

This lends itself to the ‘stupid timewasting addictions’ I spoke of earlier…I get into a habit of doing certain things that I don’t immediately notice if I’m overdoing them.  This is why I’ll also speak of ‘unplugging’, where I’ll just back away cold turkey for a while.  It’s not always due to the occasionally frustrating online conversations that pop up, or what have you; it’s just that it’s the only way I know that I’ll break those addictions and reset my life.  Plus, it’ll give me more free time for contemplation and working on the projects I need to work on.

I do find it interesting how, in this age of instant and continuous connection, the lesson we should really take out of it is moderation.

Musical Moments: Meeting a Favorite Band

So I found out the other day that one of my favorite bands of the late 80s, The Church, is going to be doing an in-store appearance at Amoeba here in San Francisco.  Most of you already know that their 1988 song “Under the Milky Way” is my favorite song of all time, so this little meet and greet is somewhat of a big thing for me.  If they play it live (I’d be surprised if they didn’t, considering it’s one of their signature songs), I’ll be absolutely over the moon.  I already have their new album, Further Deeper, which I downloaded straight from their site late last year, but I may just buy it again to get it signed.  I’m that much of a fan.

Meeting a favorite band or music is always an interesting experience.  I went to one or two in-stores back in my college days, but it wasn’t until I started working at HMV that I was able to get on the list, stick around and meet the band after local shows. I’ve gone to a few signings here in SF as well.  The guys from Travis are all wonderful, very friendly Glaswegians, and I had a really good long chat about recording and bass playing with their bassist Dougie.  The guys from the Verve Pipe were reserved but very nice guys (and Brian Van der Ark really is that tall!).  Karl Wallinger of World Party is a lovely guy and was absolutely tickled to see people there.  Then there’s the George Harrison moment, of course–the one time I was actually shaking afterwards.  There were a few others I’ve met, where they hid behind a bottle or a few beers, or where they felt just as uncomfortable as I did at that moment…those sometimes happen as well.

One of my favorite things about meeting my favorite musicians, especially once I got over being starstruck, is that they’re all the same as us fans.  They’re just regular people who are amused, maybe even a little bemused, that they have this kind of following.  Sometimes you can talk to them on Twitter or Facebook like you do your buddies, sometimes you’ll get to know them well.  Maybe not as close friends, but as acquaintances.  Your job is pushing paper, their job is writing songs and touring.  But the human interaction is the same.

It’s one of the many joys of being a music fan for me.  I don’t demand anything of them, though I may ask for an autograph if they’re willing. But I truly enjoy meeting them face to face, and thanking them for doing what they do, letting them know I love their art.

My Own Worst Enemy

I’ve been feeling frustrated lately and I know it’s my own damn fault.  I keep falling into my own trap of wasting time when I could be using it for creative endeavors.  Granted, I don’t always have the free time in between my Day Job responsibilities to sneak in some daily words, but it’s mid-February and I already see that I’m falling back into timewasting habits.

Mind you, I haven’t completely turned into a lazy-ass who dreams of being a writer but never quite gets there, never putting word to paper or screen.  I’m delivering some decent word count on the Walk in Silence project as of late.  I’ve also been having a lot of fun with my art, playing around with a comic version of A Division of Souls for my weekly art exercise (this isn’t top priority at this point, as my art still needs a hell of a lot of work).  And I’ve been doing a lot of guitar playing.

Boiling it down:  I have a lot of Best Laid Plans coming up against an easily-distracted mind.  There’s a reason I have multiple calendars and a whiteboard schedule…if I didn’t, my output would be much lower.  But it’s also a matter of finding the willingness to make good on those plans: I can’t just be “in the mood” or “inspired by the music I’m listening to” or whatever else puts me in the correct mindset.  I have to make myself want to achieve these goals, or else they’ll just remain Best Laid Plans.

We’re all our own worst enemy at times.  How do you combat it?  What do you do to clear those hurdles?

Music for a Busy Day

Oof–nothing like an ongoing heavy workload at the Day Job to keep me from actually getting any real writing done.  I’m of two minds on it:  there are days when I just want to forget my writing for a day, relax and regain my energy…and then there are days (usually the very same ones, an hour or so later) when I call BS on that complaint and force myself to get that writing done out of sheer New England stubbornness.  Unless I’m dead tired by the end of my shift, the latter usually (and thankfully) wins out.

As always, listening to music gets me through the day.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Radio BDC lately, switching over to KSCU or Sirius XM when I need a change of playlist.  Since I work at home, I can get away with something with a little stronger than your okay but spineless Listen At Work station.  It never hurts to stop what you’re doing for The Man and sing along to Violent Femmes’ “Kiss Off” with wild abandon. 🙂

So what are you listening to today?