Last issue we discussed how the digital age can hinder the underground’s mission of word-of-mouth, intentional invitation and inclusiveness. Social media makes us feel disconnected from real human interaction, while our phone addictions inhibit us from looking up at the world and living in the moment. However, is there a role for technology in the underground? Yes.
While the digital age can let us down, we can still use it to our benefit. Cell phones are an excellent tool to reach out to each other individually and ask what’s going on or invite someone to a show. If you want Sally to see your silly cat meme invitation, then text it directly to her with a personalized note. Don’t just post the meme and hope for views and likes. Let Sally know you care! She will not only feel more included, but you will also have a better shot at her attending your show.
I’ve been asked many times: “Why don’t you use social media to invite people to shows?” The simple reason is because it is not intentional. When you use social networks to invite people to your event, it becomes a promotional spectacle and a popularity contest. It fuels the disconnection machine and perpetuates the false belief that these ad-driven media conglomerates are actually a genuine, friendly way to connect with each other. That’s bullshit.
You may say, “Wowee Maui! Individually invite people to a show? Jeez Johnny, that’ll take a long time!” And my response is, “Sure, it will.” The things that are the most worthwhile take the most time. Don’t let the laziness of checking boxes on a Facebook event page (or even a mass text) overshadow the greater benefits of reaching out to a friend.
We are not limited to push mowers to mow the underground lawn. The idea of one-on-one invitations does not mean that we have to train pigeons to carry messages. The only thing we must do is make sure our invitations are individual and intentional.
So do not just blindly shake your fist at all things electronic. Let us all do “The Humpty Dance” and embrace the Digital Underground.
Ollie Collins is the founder of the theater company Monkey With a Hat On and co-founder of the cannabis farm Fire Flower. Stay tuned for more of his thoughts on The Portland Underground in the next issue of Vortex.