Saturday, April 04, 2009

On Facebook and Waxing Nostalgic

Lately I've been spending a LOT of time on Facebook, although not as much as it may seem to an outsider. Basically if I'm online then I'm logged into Facebook, even if I'm doing something else in another window, or cleaning up around the living room. In fact I'm logged in right now. But I'm only really giving it my full attention for a few cumulative minutes out of the day, when a friend is online and we're chatting, or I'm perusing whatever updates my friends have made. Another recent trend you may have noticed is the complete lack of attention I've been giving my blog. Hell, I even started a new ongoing series in order to give myself some structure, and then I turned my back on it. On Facebook I've been partaking in many quizzes, and I've been listing my various Top 5s(Top 5 movies, books, albums, etc), things I'm fully capable of putting onto this site, and yet I haven't found the time to complete even the simplest of blog posts.

There's been a lot of media attention placed on Facebook and Twitter recently, both sites where I claim membership(although Twitter was mainly out of curiosity, and is now mostly ignored). And certainly I don't want to add to that, nor do I have anything incredibly relevant to say on the subject. So I'll keep my comments brief, mainly as a prelude to future thoughts. The main complaint with Facebook and Twitter is that it gives people a chance to catalog every aspect of their lives, to the extent that they may stop living it. Well, allow me to call bullshit. You know what? This list-making and constant status updating is fun, and takes no time at all. I find it hard to bemoan as 'timewasting' something that takes about 5 minutes a day.

So yes, I am on facebook a couple times a day taking a random quiz or making a list of my top 5 of the moment. One of my more recent lists was 'top 5 albums of all time,' a subject that inspires some small amount of dread. I say this because my top 5 ANYTHING changes from month to month, day to day, often minute to minute. I normally avoid making lists for this very reason, and yet I made it anyway. For those curious, my choices were Automatic for the People by R.E.M., The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails, Boys for Pele by Tori Amos, OK Computer by Radiohead, and Deluxe Men In Space by Man... Or Astro-Man? So those were my top 5. Maybe not technically my favorite albums of all time, which would be impossibly difficult to pin down, but the first five that popped into my head, which is probably the most honest way of deciding. However, those albums are no slouches, they're records I keep coming back to, and have a symbiotic effect on my emotional state. Whatever emotion I'm feeling at the time informs how I perceive the album, while the album plays on my memories and emotions and shapes the way I feel at the time.

Do you see the pattern in that list? Certainly they're all stellar albums(provided you have any interest in their respective genres), but they were all released in the mid-nineties; the decade of my adolescence. It was a ten year period in which I became a teenager, lived through high school, lost my virginity, and entered my twenties. It's a time of great import to everyone who lives that long, and the things that were important to you then may fall by the wayside from time to time, but will always hold a special place in your life. While I've remained a fan of all those bands and celebrate most of their respective discographies, those albums represent the most important contributions to my own personal development.

Automatic For The People represents the bittersweet transition from carefree preteen to mopey, self absorbed teenager, The Downward Spiral perfectly encapsulates all the frustrations, heartbreaks and rage that came with high school life. Boys for Pele is an album that makes me fall in love every time I hear it; with the album, with Tori, with Amber, with every ex-girlfriend I've ever had or never met, and every single person in the world. A ridiculously personal reaction to a ridiculously idiosyncratic album. OK Computer and Deluxe Men In Space are both albums(or, in Deluxe Men's case, an EP) that hold a different place in my life. Both huge influences on how I listen to and think about music, but also strangely removed from any personal recollections of the time they came out. If anything each album makes me think of moments years after I'd discovered them, when they were already permanent members of my personal canon. To give an example; when I listen to OK Computer, I flash immediately to a moment in my 22nd year, laying back on a bench on a London street, just about midnight, while my friends talked and drank in a nearby bar and planned the rest of the evening. I remember laying back and watching the clouds move by overhead(it was a semi-clear night, and the clouds moved quickly) while I sang Let Down to myself. It's obvious now why I associate Radiohead with that moment, but I have no real explanation as to why that moment would have called Radiohead to mind in the first place.

And so this is how it's gone. I've been ignoring my blog while spending time on Facebook and circling around these themes that are bound to be the subject of my next post. The project I've been working on is almost completely composed in my head, but I'm finding it very difficult to start putting into print, so I find other ways to spend my time that serve a somewhat similar purpose. My next post will be the long awaited(by me, at least) continuation of the Working Dead A to Zed series, which has so far only had one introductory post. The purpose of that series was to go through my vast music collection and re-listen to albums I might not have listened to in years, while trying to find just what it is about those albums that speak to me. And the reason I've hit this wall is because of the unexpectedly personal associations I have with the next album on the list. It will be the most personal thing I've written for this blog, and probably the most personal thing I've written since college. It will be full of things I've not really spoken about with anyone, even the people who went through it with me. I don't want to raise expectations that this will be some soul-searing pouring out of emotions; it will likely be fairly minor in comparison to what a lot of people write on their blogs or livejournals. But for someone like me, who's used to talking about his life mainly in terms of pop-culture likes or dislikes, this is proving a hard first step to take.

And so, in the words of my inestimable friend Rick; 'to be continued...'

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