Ask Not What Your Social Media Can Do For You

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There is so much being written these days about technology, social networking, and the effect of multitasking on the brain, and I have to admit that I’ve become fascinated with the nature of attention and how all of this connectedness is affecting that. I’m partway through this book which addresses living a focused life (as opposed to a scattered life), and my personal interest in avoiding the onset of full-test “Google Brain” is further enhanced by this article, which is just plain scary and has caused me to take measures to curb the amount of time spent staring at screens.

However, I am definitely a fan of social networking—in addition to having a website and personal blog, I use Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, and I try to use these platforms effectively to communicate and share information that is (mostly) pertinent to my existence as a composer. I also really appreciate Facebook and Twitter as tools for conveying useful information that I might otherwise miss, such as news articles, not to mention keeping up with the adventures of friends, colleagues, and those who bring a dose of smart wit to the mix. More and more, though, I wonder if being connected in these ways is really time well spent, and have been more carefully considering, when I am logged in to the platform of the moment, what I am doing there, and why. After all, it is time away from the primary task of making music.

Everyone is supposedly using these online tools, including more and more companies and organizations, because apparently it has become necessary to do so in the interest of “audience engagement”. But are these really the most effective methods for doing that? This ARTSblog post suggests that organizations jump on the social networking bandwagon in the hopes that these “shiny new toys” will alleviate their struggles, and that in many cases the organization has neither thought through the way in which the technology will be used, nor have they accounted for the changes in infrastructure and working styles that are needed to fully benefit from the tools. Having been tasked with implementing social networking strategies for organizations in the past, I can safely say that this is often the case. There has to be a vision, a goal, and a clue about how to arrive at that point. I think the same holds true for composers—if one is using technology as a means to bolster one’s professional life, it is helpful to have a sense not only of the how, but also of the why, and what exactly one is hoping to achieve.

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