Some delusions of mediocrity to muse
- Zane Sparling
- Lake Oswego Review - Opinion
I had a revelation recently: I am the type of guy who always has a 'thing' he needs people to attend. By 'thing,' I'm referring to that personal dream we all have inside of us - the vanity project that, once its genius is finally recognized, will (finally) lead to the fame, fortune, and let's be modest, messiah-hood, we always knew we deserved.
We've all got one, a hypothetically creative endeavor, that, while soon to be wildly popular, is currently stuck in the 'begging-your-friends-to-show-up' stage of promotion. A band, a book, an art nouveau re-imagining of the Freddy Krueger series that never really found its audience - the specifics are immaterial. The important thing is that, whatever the inherent merits of your project, be they wit, insight or giant flashing lasers - they lack attention from the mainstream. Therefore the onus lies on you, the under-appreciated genius, to create 'buzz,' 'interest' and your eventual domination of the world.
So what do you do? Well, technically, social media isn't your only option for D.I.Y. promotion, but it is one of the cheapest. In fact, if you take a look at my scale of 'Acts of Promotional Desperation as Measured by the Amount of Shame they will Cause Your Grandmother,' social media-izing ranks quite low, right between 'chain letters' and 'skywriting.' But let's face it, DDT isn't getting any cheaper. (What did you think skywriting was made out of?) While, on the other hand, your friends are priceless, which is another way of saying you couldn't get any money for them, which is another way of saying that your friends are worthless.
So when you've got a big 'thing' to advertise, social media allows you to transform your relatives, work-buddies and ex-girlfriends into meaningless cogs in a soul-less machine dedicated only to ensuring as many people as possible come see your one-man show about man-boobs. Not convinced? Social media combines all the fun of mindless business-speak (synergize our personal brand stratagems) with all the dignity of begging people for change!
Personally, my own little vanity project has always been my band. Now, the number one thing adults say to me when they learn I'm in a 'band' is: 'This is the cops. The neighbors called - they're worried that you're too good and we're here to make sure you've been signed to a label. Also you're under arrest.' The second most common thing adults ask is whether or not we're a cover band. The underlying assumption being that 'cover' songs are easier than originals, and more to the point, that we stink.
What people (read: clueless adults) fail to see is that real songs have things like standardized chord progressions, interludes, rhythms, and some variance in terms of tonal screechitude - whereas our songs have none of these things. What they do have is an aggressive social media marketing strategy.
If you're a tween-something living on the cool side of the lake, (Yeah, I said it. There is a cool side,) you're probably already familiar with the Sparling-brand of social media, colloquially known as 'Death by Overwhelming Force.' But just in case you aren't Facebook savvy, here's a brief run-down on how I tend to promote things.
Step one involves creating a Facebook event for whatever it is you want people to go to. (If you don't have a Facebook or other comparable web presence, I would suggest adopting an aggressive 'waiting-for-reincarnation' strategy, with the hopes that the 12-year-old Laotian you become in your next life will be better prepared to publicize your Harry Potter Fan Fiction.)
After creating your event, make sure to carefully pick out the frenemies/lovers/random strangers who would most likely find their interest piqued by an invite to a progressive metal sextet playing in your mom's basement. Then go ahead and invite the other 845 people on your friends list. Step Two: Continue doing those things that will do what you want them to do. (What, you didn't think I'd give up all my trade secrets that easily, did you? That's a story for another column. Specifically, one I wrote two years ago.)
Let's take a moment, though, to remember that there are plenty of people out there who don't have 'things.' Not everyone is blessed with crazy, money-sucking, friend-alienating pipe dreams they can obsess about for days on end.
And personally, I try to stay thankful that I do have a dream-project. Without my avant-garde Theremin band to keep me busy, what would my life be like? Sitting around, crying into my Jenga set, hoping someone cooler than I would swoop down, ask me to drive 45 minutes to a old meat-packing warehouse, and pay 10 bucks to watch an experimental black and white film about gravel. Because, guess what? It's that, or another lonely night watching 'The Mentalist: Season 3.' Again.
Zane Sparling, a recent graduate from Lake Oswego High School, writes a twice-a-month column for the Lake Oswego Review.