Earlier today a soprano friend of ours tweeted “Too many notes, too little time!” To which I responded “Better than not many notes, too much time.” She’s busy and to reinforce her excitement I reminded her that she’s far better off than many of her fellow singers in having lots of work. Lots of singers don’t. I’m not working at the moment either, but that isn’t a problem. Nor did it provoke my response. I have savings, my outgoings are low and my wife is bringing home the bacon. And I’ve been doing the singing lark for a very long time. I’m not worried.
I suppose I was saying to her “Be grateful and don’t moan about being too busy.” Don’t get me wrong. I know she tweeted what she said because she is genuinely concerned about having too little time to learn a lot of new music, but I’m sure she’s thrilled to be busy and as the saying goes “be careful what you wish for…”
Another friend of mine, a globe-trotting bass who moans to his agent if he has two weeks off, texted me last year with “At Heathrow. Just back from New York. Off to Tokyo in the morning. What a life.” I texted him back with “Just done a pee. Need to do a poo. What a life”. He called me something rude after that.
But the more I think about it the more I realise we all do it. Twitter and Facebook are awash with remarks like “Crazy busy at the moment!” “Knackered!” “Rushing to catch a plane!” I’m as bad a culprit as anyone. We’re always trying to assert how much we are in demand, how much we are liked. We never, ever say “Having a tough time of it at the moment. Really worried about my future. Can anybody help?” We NEVER, EVER say anything like “Having a few vocal problems which I’ll have to sort out before my next job.”
We’ve all fallen victim to a salesman culture in which we are constantly trying to impress everyone. We try and impress our friends, we’re desperate to impress our parents (even after they have died) and we’re even trying to impress our children.
What the fuck is that all about?
Of course I understand, as an addicted impresser myself (you have to ask yourselves why I write this blog don’t you?) that anyone mad enough to be a freelancer in the arts knows the score. People don’t like failure. They only want to hear about success. They don’t want to have rumours floating around about flaws and insecurities.
Isn’t this all a bit bonkers? If social media have a proper function shouldn’t they be places where we can at least be honest with our FRIENDS? Do we really have to spend so much energy on showing off to people who shouldn’t really give a toss, and who, let’s face it, privately roll their eyes whenever they read yet another posting on how fabulously your career is going? As Gore Vidal said: ‘It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” Ghastly though that is, I bet we can all identify with it a little.
The burning question for me is this: When did we all become so insecure that we have to expend so much energy asserting how fantastically secure we are?