Yesterday I stumbled upon this latest entry by renowned hip-hop video blogger Jay Smooth. I won’t go on about it too much — I think it speaks for itself — but I just wanted to share how thankful I am for his work on IllDoctrine.com (which I had all but forgotten since my Great Escape from the Internet). I don’t agree with evvverything he says in his vlogs, but most of it gets a big Sadhu (well said) from here. And this video’s insight about media and culture resonates particularly. As Jay puts it, we need to ensure that the coming generations can differentiate between media attention and genuine affection. Real love, vital love, does not commodify us. It is not measured in applause, sales, or hit counts.
The message is timely for me because, well, lately I’ve been spending more and more of my time online, making media. More significant than increasing the hours logged online (not hard to do when your major former activities, i.e. meditating and cooking and walking across a country, involved zero computer time whatsoever), working on the blog has begun to affect my social relationships in the offline world. My friends want to know where I am. (I am at a cafe with WiFi.) My friends want to know when I’ll be done. (Probably around 9 or 10pm.) My friends want to know have I lost my damn mind. (To be fair, these particular friends are over 60, and regard with some suspicion anyone who willingly spends multiple consecutive hours in front of a computer screen.)
And I can understand my friends’ concern. Not because I think my long hours signal obsession. But because I know that things could turn that way real quick, if I’m not careful. Particularly as someone who basically blogs about her own life, I recognize this dangerous property of the world-wide web: an enormous gravitational pull toward fame-chasing and narcissism.
And it doesn’t even have to be “fame” in the sense of three million unique daily viewers or your own Wikipedia page. For most of us, fame means affirmation. Compliments. From friends, family, strangers. And while I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t congratulate each other for powerful work, I know how easy it is to get caught up in an activity not because your heart is in it, but because people tell you you’re good at it.
Hence my emphasis, in my own vlogging, that for me, it’s not about being a singer — it’s just about singing. Sharing. Because when I feel good, and I feel like singing, I want to broadcast some of that, spread it around. Cat is right: we shouldn’t downplay our gifts. But talents are not “gifts” merely because they are inborn blessings. They are also gifts because they are meant for us to give. To share. In other words, it’s not about how awesome you are. It’s about how much awesomeness you can transmit.
Defining a true artist, one commenter on Jay’s site put it this way: “someone who can shine a light and not just be in a light.”
Yes. And as I said in my own comment to him, these creative media things we do (and “we” means more and more of us, with self-publishing outlets like Myspace, Facebook, even Twitter), they need to be about spreading Love, not just looking lovely.
To be a star is very special, but to be a sun — illuminating — is your real destiny. Not just for artists and celebrities, but for all of us.
Thanks again, Jay, for your work and your light of inspiration.
yes! lol is that a big enough comment? i hope so, because it neatly sums up how i feel. on point!
Brevity is the soul of soul, my friend. ;) haha.