Personal Independence Day

by Emon Hassan on July 4, 2008

This social networking thing is baffling to me. Instead of networking, it turns into a battle for more hits, clicks, and an avalanche of incoming traffic. So maybe it’s not really my thing and I shouldn’t waste time on it. Instead, I should focus on what I have to say.

Then I do that and it still doesn’t work. I see people on the same sites I frequent and watch them grow into social moguls. Most of them say nothing or nothing different from what I say. How do they find an audience and I don’t?

What am I doing wrong? I’m being myself and if being so doesn’t bring me a mass audience, then be it. I’m done with reaching out to people hoping to ‘network’. What the fuck am I networking for anyway? A job? A collaboration? Dating? It’s all bullshit! I have a job. I don’t like to ‘collaborate.’ I’ve tried collaborating before and it always resulted in my hating that other person, or hating myself for agreeing to collaborate with that person. I’ve had one or two good collaborations, I’ll admit, but they were ‘artists’ and made working a misery. I can’t deal with miserable bastards. Fuck them! I don’t need another person to remind me of what I’m trying to run away from. It was sad to see how many talented people bitched about not getting discovered but wouldn’t put in time to promote themselves or work on smaller projects to get their names out. Dating? Forget about it. I applaud the few who’ve found their partners. The rest are swimming with assholes.

I looked at my ‘Friends’ list on some of these networks I signed up with recently and realized how I know nothing about most of them. I have, however, out of all that mess, made some good friends. Some I’ve met, some I haven’t. Would it be fair to keep them in the same list with those who bring nothing to the network?

So…I’ve decided to drop most of them.  Clean out my list. I won’t impress a lot of you with my puny list (right now it’s 100+ on SU, 400+ on MySpace, and who knows how many on Facebook)  but I don’t need to impress anyone. Earning an audience is a tough endeavor, brutal on your emotional output, and time-consuming. The key to my change is taking the mass out of mass audience. There are thousands of ways to achieve a mass audience, increase traffic, and optimize SEO. There’s only one way to achieve an audience that will stay with you, no matter how small – originality.

I was telling someone recently that the secret to longevity of a person’s career is that his/her audience has to emotionally invest in who the person is than what the person does. What the person does can grow old and the audience won’t believe (s)he can do anything better than the last thing (s)he did or anything else than what the person is used to doing. That may not be entirely true, you’ll argue, and I might not argue back. Why do people invest? To see their investment(s) grow.

Why should they invest their time and emotion in me if I’m not growing as a person? And why should they relate to my growth if I don’t stumble, fail, or feel like they do? Perhaps this ‘know who I am and not what I do’ as geared towards longevity applies to people like me. I don’t want to be associated with one thing. I don’t want to be known as filmmaker, or photographer, or writer, or musician because I’m none of those. I don’t want to be defined as any of those by a large group of people. People who like my photos don’t have to like the way I write or make films. People who’ve heard me play guitar don’t have to know, or if they do, like, how I photograph. Yes, they’re all related to me but one of them doesn’t have to define all of me.

That’s a big dream right there. A stupid dream at that. Being known for many things and not one. Then again, all dreams are stupid. “I dream of becoming a surgeon” is more practical but it’s still damn stupid to think it will happen for you. “I dream of becoming the first man to walk on the moon.” Veeery stupid and a very old joke. “I dream of becoming the Governor of California” – very very stupid in 1973; not so much in 2003. The more nearer you are to your dream, the less stupid it is. So why not work hard to get nearer. Perhaps announcing a dream is more stupid than having it. It’s a movie no one has seen.

Timing is everything. Metallica in the 80s is perfect timing even if no one has seen the likes of them. Metallica in the 60s is  too early and too good a candidate for Salem witch burning. Before my time comes, everything I do might make sense to me on good days. Either I’m a movie you haven’t seenor I’m a movie everyone else has seen except me. In other words, the movie definition of tragedy.

Faith. Gut. Vision. You have them, you will have to learn to use them. You won’t know how and no one you know will either if there are signs of originality in them. Most people don’t want originality. You know why? Because it’s not in the menu. Originality does not come from space. Originality is a cocktail mixed from ingredients everyone recognizes and everything that cannot be something else. Lemon can’t be a tomato but you can take it and make infinite other things with it.

Success is a moving target. You might have to move around to aim straight at it. And it’s always better if you didn’t accidentally hit bulls-eye the first time. You’ll never know the joy of earning it and you’ll never be happier the next time you hit.

With that said, I’m off to cleaning out my ‘Friends’ list and be free.

Happy 4th of July!

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