Welcome to blog #6 of 7 in my track by track guide to my new DIY album, Millennials Are Going Gray. Track #6 is “This Is the Era,” another quirky acoustic punk-ish tune, this one just randomly listing things I’ve observed about the time in which we’re living, because why not?
I had the “this is the era” hook in my head around the same time as “Gatekeeper,” along with a much longer list of examples, but I think I managed to narrow it down to the three least stupid sounding: one-click friendships and one-click falling outs; online businessmen who make their fortunes off eBooks of their secrets; and hypocritical libertarians (which, let’s be real, is just one example of a wider issue of hypocrisy in armchair politics). These three examples have little in common except for being three observations I’ve made about the current time period recently, so the song isn’t the most coherent statement, but I did my best.
The first verse, referring to a person who unfriended me, as usual, is about more than one person and doesn’t totally adhere to reality.
I do think in general, with social media being the ultimate symbol of a friendship or relationship now, because these can be manipulated with a simple click, there is more of this sense that friendships are disposable. You’ve got hundreds or even thousands (whether they’re real is beside the point), so if one person’s post or interaction makes you feel bad even just once, you might as well just hit “unfriend” and be done with them. (To be fair to modern humans, I think people probably would have used this option at any time in history had it existed, but it didn’t.)
In reality, I try not to talk about politics online ever (though every once in while my unruly tongue gets the better of my typing), so I wasn’t really unfriended over that ever as far as I know. However — I kid you not — I was unfriended on Facebook by an IRL friend of several years over an argument about double spacing between sentences, during which I was genuinely trying to be conciliatory, but I guess it’s hard to tell online and many people these days just aren’t willing to give the benefit of the doubt. Again, I think this has to do with this notion that friendships are disposable now and people are out on their first dubious strike, and I think that’s really sad.
Speaking of social media, it might just be because of my stated singer-songwriter job or the pages I like, but I am CONSTANTLY getting ads about self-proclaimed “creative entrepreneurs” making “six figures.” They always sound exactly the same: believe it or not, they advertised and built their fan base entirely online, and if I’d only shell out $100 or so for their eBook or online course, I could learn all of their “secrets” and be just as successful very quickly and with surprisingly little effort.
Look, social media lady, it seems painfully obvious to me that if you are indeed making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, it’s most likely from these godforsaken eBook sales and other ways of cornering the unsuccessful musician market, not from your music or art that no one’s ever heard of. And I accepted the need for hard work and patience to build a music career a long time ago, and I still feel perfectly fine about it. It really bothers me how many “entrepreneurs” and businesses out there are built purely on finagling money from hopeful musicians who are probably lacking in either talent or understanding of the business. That is literally their target audience, not people who are likely to succeed, but people who are likely to need their questionable “services” for a very long time.
And why is every eBook sale landing page exactly the same? Plain black text broken up with bold, yellow, and red on a white background. Lots of bullets, lots of promises and guarantees that sound way too good to be true. A handful of testimonials accompanied by names and photos that look fake, and then in a little box way down at the bottom once they’re sure they’ve got you: “Get this life-changing eBook that will pay for itself in basically a day for
$1000 — no, wait, if you buy it today it’s only $99, what a steal!”
Finally, as for “libertarians who seek a fortress guarded by high-tech Nazis,” like I said, I never talk about politics. I like keeping friends and keeping my head, and I’m smart enough to see how informal political debates these days literally never go anywhere. I suppose I snuck this in because I felt like a wide variety of people would interpret it as agreeing with them, so the risk was lower — and it seems to have worked.
All I will say is that I generally don’t begrudge anyone any political opinion that they genuinely believe is right for the world (unless it’s a real fascist idea, I mean, that basically shows me you don’t actually have a valid sense of right and wrong/you’re a sociopath). But you have to be consistent about it. Intellectually I can understand the origins of the selfish desire to put regulations on people you disagree with while remaining free yourself, or to curb all government spending except the subsidies and programs that directly benefit you. What I don’t understand is how people can spout it proudly as though it’s perfectly decent and appropriate. Those people need to be pushed back on more often, wherever they fall on the political spectrum.
Finally, I attempted to tie the song all together with a little hopeful summary at the end and my usual (five, in this case) standard chords. When I first finished the song, I wondered if it needed an extra part or something, but in the end I left it at that. It’s not about what’s wrong, it’s about what’s right.
This is the era of one-click friendships
And one-click falling outs at the first hint of difference
She friended me after a party where we exchanged a mere handful of words
Then we had some late night heart to hearts and it felt good to be heard
But before we met again she dropped me after one link I shared
And my political views say “Skeptic” and hers are agree or get out
There was no option to appeal the decision
And we look just like strangers when we see each other now
This is the era of online businessmen
Who make their fortunes off eBooks of their secrets
I saw an ad on social media, blocking the things I really want from my feed
Promised me riches and a freedom most can only dream
I scrolled down for half an hour just to see where it led
And the red text at the bottom, assaulting my eyes
Said “Snag this deal while you still can”
A hundred dollars, hundred pages, for one simple truth:
When they can’t create value, then they just invent it
This is the era of libertarians
Who seek a fortress guarded by high-tech Nazis
I see them wrapped up in their bubble
Blocking detractors just like everyone else
They flip, they don’t just stretch, the meanings of the words that they sell
When they hate free movement and free trade across imagined lines
Protect my industry, protect my family, they don’t care about the rest
I could see them defending chattel slavery as long as their own rights were protected
But it’s going to be okay, okay okay
Because we can still stand up, make changes
So let’s defy them all, the online robber barons and the fascist libertarians
Be true to ourselves and let’s dream and let’s love
It’s the only way we will get through this life
It’s not about what’s wrong, it’s about what’s right