By Hans Ebert

“If we’re going to have dinner, I want you to turn that bloody thing off.” “What did you do when you didn’t have a mobile phone? Surely, it didn’t incapacitate you? Surely, you still went out, had a good time with friends and with no need to constantly check if you missed out on anything?” “I refuse to reply to you with text messages when I can just call you or you can call me. If we’re going to move this relationship anywhere, I don’t wish it to be based on some emojis.” Smart woman. Definitely not from or in Hong Kong, some of whom judge you by the size of your, well, iPhone. Seriously though, in Hong Kong, your phone is like an invitation to join Mensa.

There were more, but these were just a handful of remarks received about being iPhone dependent and this becoming an invasion of privacy, and stunting interpersonal skills. There’s also a fast-growing backlash against that oxymoron known as social media. And don’t think millennials are not part of this move. Most are leading the revolt. Many have tired of what they see and read on social media and are hopefully returning to more simple and honest times.

This move has probably taken longer than expected, but while The Big Orange in the White House continues to tweet away, there’s a chorus growing louder and louder that all this technological clutter has created an addictive and needy culture- and it isn’t only millennials as it’s never too late to teach old dogs new tricks- dearly wanting to belong and be loved even if it’s in the vapidity of this online world.

When Bernie Taupin wrote the lines, “It’s lonely out in space” and about “burnin’ out the fuse up here all alone” for Elton John’s hit “Rocket Man”, though inspired by a Ray Bradbury novel, it could well apply to this other world today many are living in and where the unreal becomes reality because, perhaps, they’re too far down the road to distinguish right from wrong and real from unreal. It’s eerily similar to who Lennon sang about in “Nowhere Man”. There are lost souls everywhere through letting go of life’s priorities. And it’s shallow as hell out there.

All this has also painted some very warped views in almost every industry. There are many in the restaurant business who will force you to read a good review of their establishment written by that famous person named A.Non.

When it comes to music, it’s baffling how so many go through the financial trials and tribulations to record their music, but with no plans in place to see a return on time and investment. It’s all about uploading a track, hopefully with an accompanying video, and pretty much praying for the best. If all that hope starts to evaporate, then it’s about buying views and likes to try and kickstart interest in the product. And if this doesn’t lead anywhere and there’s been no fairy godparent to bankroll the investment, what’s there to do?

Of course, if not trying to follow in the footsteps of the Beatles or any other iconic band or musician, but, being a gigging musician simply needing to be heard and realising this is your lot in life, and it’s all about self promotion, there’s nothing wrong with this as it’s being realistic. It’s also called survival.

Where many go wrong, however, is believing in hype and fake online fame. As one artist manager lamented recently about trying to break one of his singers, “We did it all- bought views and likes and then bought even more and received positive feedback, but no one bought the bloody music.”

All of this only makes the successes and accomplishments and longevity of all those bands and musicians whose recordings created what became an industry even more impressive- even more inspiring as they journeyed as far as they did armed only with their God given talent.

The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Elton John- you know the roll call- never needed “social media.” Most had a manager and a promotions person who pitched their music to radio. This music either struck a nerve with people or it didn’t. And during those days before MTV, it really was only and all about the music- falling for only the sounds emanating from the grooves on vinyl or what one heard on a CD. Even before the Beatles, think about all those greats who came before and acted as catalysts to show them the way.

I grew up in Ceylon listening to my old man’s records- Benny Goodman, Ella, the Dave Brubeck Quarter, Peggy Lee, Sinatra etc. Did I know or care what they looked like or how old they were? Of course not. Their music spoke volumes to a then-five year old. It still does.

So where have many of us lost the plot? Personally speaking, I think the start of the downward spiral for myself was not being selective enough. Just like taking in ungrateful human strays and feeding and caring for them, somewhere along the way, from having strong opinions about who and what I thought to be truly special, the floodgates opened, there was no filter, and I took in everyone and everything that washed over me.

Like spending the night, which could turn into years of wasted time with someone you knew from the start to be wrong, often we just couldn’t say no. We stopped being selective because we probably stopped thinking and allowed ourselves to be led by social media and all those faceless, nameless individuals out there- some probably very nice people, but you know that none will ever have any bearing on your life. But you still allowed them to take up more of your time than they should have.

It’s nothing funny. It’s actually quite scary if this is how one’s life is being run- and controlled. By anonymous and meaningless outside forces you have carelessly allowed in and now feel guilty to tell them that time’s up. It’s like a more sinister version of The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.

The solution? Get rid of it all. Switch that phone off. Screw the apps. Don’t worry about withdrawal symptoms. Cold turkey with cold slaw can be good for you.

Go back to hearing purely the music and listen to what moves you. Return to your roots. The days of being a slave to technology and listening to those who don’t matter shouldn’t matter. Smile and walk away whistling a happy tune. Like Grace Slick once sang, Feed your head. But first empty all the shit that’s been allowed to mutate in there for too long.

#music #socialmedia #Beatles #BernieTaupin #EltonJohn #KeepingItReal #iPhone

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