It’s a conundrum: Inviting people to an event only by word of mouth will make the experience more enriching, but it might not pack the Rose Garden. Intentional invitations are more meaningful when they’re not impersonally blasted on Facebook, but someone you forget to invite may feel left out. My response: Multiple underground venues are more impactful than a single stadium concert, and the isolating, divisive nature of social media already makes people feel left out.
Sometimes we confuse giant social conglomerates with worthwhile, effervescent connections. Sure, Burning Man and summer festivals are fun, but don’t assume you are going to have a life-changing experience just because you’re around a lot of people and have a pocket full of psychedelics. Usually smaller, intentional gatherings with inclusive atmospheres are the ones that lead to more meaningful experiences.
I may sound like a grumpy 80-year-old man shaking my fist at those newfangled computers, but I can’t help but think that a big part of our increasingly divisive society correlates to our increasing dependency on social media. It’s so easy to get into fights on Facebook. We say things we would never say in person, misunderstand each other because of the lack of tone and facial expressions, and obsess over our image. Social media is engineered to keep us glued to our screens by making us feel angry, fearful and left out—all the while, it’s making money off us. It’s depressing and disconnecting. So call me grumpy gramps, but really I’m just a Johnny who wants us all to get along.
In order to substantially connect with our community, we need to break the addiction of following, commenting and liking on social feeds. The best way to foster connections is to get together, directly communicate and tell people what you like—all in the real world!
We shouldn’t encourage each other to scan our phones for something to do. We should reach out to each other to ask what’s going on, or extend an invitation. We need to get outside of our comfort zones and put ourselves out there in real life. When trying to save ourselves from existential dread and all the fucked up things in this world, the answer can sometimes be the simplest: Get back to basics, be intentional and live life looking up, not down at the phone.
If you want to connect with people, create enriching experiences, meet your summertime fling, or find your new favorite event, the best way is the old-fashioned way: in person.
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.