Dr. Seuss released his classic story in 1990. It’s hard for me to comprehend that this classic story came out even that recently. The original story is all about being brave and experiencing the world, making decisions with your gut, and embracing all the things you see good or bad. It’s about finding yourself in other places and people who can change you for the better, all the while you are finding out who you are. Can you imagine the places the young man in this story would go if he had a smart phone or Facebook? Would it have changed? I am here to say, “Yes it would have!”
The last 6th months I have utilized social media to enter into closed communities of people with similar interest to mine. It has been a wonderful outlet for me to be myself and dive into my interests. I totally understand why seclusion could be a leading health risk in the future. Using Facebook closed groups I was able to talk Minnesota Timberwolves basketball 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year if I wanted! I still actively try to keep my phone use when I am out with friends under control, but I must admit sometimes I have troubles not being engaged in a conversation online for days at a time. This compounded when I found John Mayer closed groups. What are the odds that there are thousands of people around the world who don’t just think of “Your Body is a Wonderland” when they hear the name John Mayer?
I started to not only chat on the threads, but engage them further. They inspired me to say “FUCK IT, I’m making a podcast”. This is where things got unusual for me. People listened. Not a lot by any means, but enough for me to feel like I was good at something. It gave me confidence in my public speaking, my story telling, and myself in general. The first episode of the Mayercast has about 400 listens so far. 400 people listened to me and a bud of mine talk about my favorite musician and his records. We didn’t rehearse or do any prep. We just started talking. admittedly the remaining 4 episodes cap off at about 100 listens. That is enough for me though! I started to do Facebook live streams. All of my real life friends generally ignored the action. They probably think I need to grow up or that I am being dumb. That is what my anxiety would have told me anyway.
The people who were showing up for live streams that were engaging me socially were all from closed groups. Most of them have heard my podcast or read this blog. I am extremely grateful for all of them. I recently tried writing some new music for the first time since about 2012. I live streamed part of my brainstorming session. I was thrilled to share my process and talk about music beyond how others see it. I was talking about how I choose to make music. They listened and I enjoyed every minute of it.
The important lesson I learn is that I can have common interest with people in these groups and see them in a completely different light than the person on the other side of the screen. That’s okay. It makes me accept and re-evaluate the art. I butt heads with people on their sports and music takes. The common belief is that we would all troll each other to death, smoke a cigarette and go to bed hating each other. In my experiences that is still just a description for a toxic marriage. We eventually smile and laugh it off and return to the thread later.
In April I did what I always do. I went to some shows alone. This was my first exprience meeting people from my group. One of my friends I have made has been in attendence at 7 of the same John Mayer shows. We were once within 15 feet of each other at Alpine Valley for the Dead! We have become great friends It was wonderful meeting them. The strange part is that It felt as if we had been friends a very long time. At another John show my phone had died and I couldn’t get an uber back. A closed group member who read “My Trip to the Garden” that had friended me on facebook drove me back to my hotel. This is an incredible feeling. If anything can be learned from this it’s that its no longer weird to meet new friends with similar interest online.
The most alarming and wonderful thing happened the other day. I travel alone. I am the king Master-Dater. I refuse to let being alone stop me from seeing the world. I think this would make the Doc quite proud. In a lot of ways it makes me believe that my adult self is taking the Seuss story seriously. There is an emptiness that comes with traveling alone. It’s the ultimate way to live in the now, however you don’t have people to remember when with. This week I started random chats like I always do after doing some online crying about not being able to see the Dead this summer. I am deeply sad I wont be on the bus this summer. I started talking to a friend online about the show she was seeing in California. Eventually she said let me know if you come and I’ll show you the city. This floored me because I believed her. Belief is a beautiful thing that you don’t need a lot of when you are alone. You don’t have to search through broken smiles to convince yourself someone wasn’t lying about the movie they said they loved. You don’t have to believe they care about the stories you care to tell them. It’s amazing how one can miss those sorts of inhibitions but the thrill of saying “remember when” is one we all long for!
In that same week a friend from a Facebook closed group reached out to me at random and asked if I would like John Mayer tickets in Seattle and Portland. I gladly excepted with blind belief. I’m embracing the idea of Air B&B to possibly make connections with people who can show me the emerald city of Seattle. I am reaching out to old friends in Portland. Most of all I am creating digital memories. Oh the places you’ll go without leaving your screen. Oh the places you’ll go when you find your self belief. Maybe the docs story is the same, maybe the only thing that changes is how you get there.