Oh Facebook. How we love to hate Facebook. As much as I enjoy keeping with old friends or out of town friends, Facebook can honestly be the biggest pain in the ass that ever existed. As a musician, you’re forever balancing the fine line of keeping people on Facebook because they might be useful connections later on in your career, or deleting them because their posts are annoying.
The violinist I mentioned in my previous post “That one violinist” is definitely an example someone who I would unfriend any day if I wasn’t a musician. If you haven’t read that post, please take a couple minutes to at least skim over it so the next few paragraphs make more sense. Pretty much the only reason I keep him on Facebook is to have that connection. I could do without his pretentious pictures with his violin and statuses bragging about how much he practices and competitions he’s won. I could do without the hundreds of comments and likes he gets from his “fans”. Honestly if I had no idea what was going on in his life, I think my overall quality of life would be better. You’re probably thinking another thing that I could do would be to keep him as a friend but block his statuses from my news feed. I’ve seriously considered doing that, but haven’t actually made an intention to do that. I find myself somewhat morbidly curious about his life. If anything, I try to get past how annoying and frustrating I find his posts and mock them. I have a small group of friends and school and we just mock everything he posts and says on Facebook and comment on just how ridiculous they are.
For example, he won a competition with the local symphony orchestra to play as a soloist in their outreach concert series for high school students. The concert “tour” was basically performances for various high school and middle school students. I’m not doubting that it was a very prestigious opportunity and I think any young music student would really appreciate an opportunity like that. The thing that bothered me (or thing that I found hilarious) was the way he announced it to Facebook. He said something along the lines of “It was such an honour to be featured with the ________ Symphony Orchestra in their tour this week. Soloing with such a wonderful orchestra five times in one week was truly amazing.” Of course, what he conveniently left out was the fact that they were outreach concerts for students, which I believe was the most important aspect of the opportunity. From my understanding of this opportunity, these concerts were mostly for students of low income and less fortunate families who can’t afford to enroll their children in music lessons or go to the regular symphony concerts. The fact that he would capitalize on this opportunity and make himself sound like a world class soloist touring around with a symphony is absolutely heartless in my opinion. I’m not doubting that playing a solo with any orchestra would be a phenomenal experience, certainly if I’d had that opportunity I’d be over the moon, but he didn’t really appreciate the outreach aspect of it and how much his music must have meant to those students. He twisted the words and left out details to get more likes.
I gave up on liking and commenting on the violinist’s posts a long time ago. I simply will not support his incessant bragging and twisting of words to make his accomplishments sound more profound than they actually are. It is still painful to see people that I thought were my friends liking and commenting on his statuses. People who have never once liked or commented on my statuses are all over his. I accomplish great things too, and I don’t leave out pertinent details. Why don’t these people appreciate my accomplishments too? Well, frankly, my accomplishments will never measure up to his. Everything I do, he will always be one-upping me, or five-upping me to be realistic. Anything I do will seem trivial or insignificant compared to what he does, even if I’m proud of it and worked really hard for it. I know I shouldn’t really compare myself to others like this, but it’s almost inevitable in a career in music. Your whole career is based on what people think about you. Obviously, no one is going to pick employers/musicians based on how many likes their Facebook posts get, but it’s still irritating in the short term.
It’s not just this particular violinist either. Lots of people post about winning ________ competition and playing with __________ orchestra and yadda yadda yadda. It’s like all the musicians of the world were on a mission to make me look like even more of an idiot than I already do (if that’s possible). People brag about the most trivial things that even I wouldn’t publicize. The bragging post that bothers me the most (and if you make these kinds of posts, let this be a PSA to stop) are people publicizing their marks on Royal Conservatory of Music Exams (google it if you’ve never heard of it). I absolutely cannot stand those posts and they need to stop. I don’t give a sh*t about how you got 95% on your grade 10 violin and if anything, you’re creating an impossible standard that I will never achieve. When I was taking my grade 10 viola exam, all I wanted was to get a mark over 90%. I saw all these Facebook posts of people achieving marks in the 90s on their exams so I thought why couldn’t I be one of those people? Despite all my hard work and preparation, I only achieved a measly 78%. If you know anything about RCM exams, 78% is nothing to sneeze at. The examiners are highly subjective and just completely unfair sometimes (a lot of the time). I could have played the exact same for a different person and gotten 86%. I was incredibly upset for days when I found out that I had gotten 78% and people tried to console me and say that it’s actually a pretty good mark for a grade 10, but I was still convinced it was a failure. Why? These f***ing f***ers on Facebook who posted about getting 90s. Of course, a lot of fine musicians who work really hard and practice efficiently get 78% on their RCM exams too, but they’re not going to post about that on Facebook. In fact, there is no need to publicize what marks you get on RCM exams, all that matters is that you pass. No school or employer is going to judge you for getting 78%, all they care is that they can see you’ve achieved that particular level. The worst part is that I once considered redoing the exam to boost my mark. I wasn’t required to do so as I had scored enough points to pursue an ARCT exam when I was ready for that. I never ended up redoing the exam because I realized that I wasn’t doing it for myself; I wanted to do it for the approval of others, which was absolutely unhealthy as no one needs to know in the first place what marks I get on these exams anyway. I can’t believe I was once willing to spend another $300 (or however much these exams cost these days) just to attempt to achieve a higher score to brag about on Facebook.
This leads nicely into what I really don’t like about Facebook, people sharing their accomplishments. I’m not really in a position to assert this as I definitely do post about my accomplishments on Facebook. I have a lot of relatives, non-music friends, and others on my Facebook that would otherwise not know about things that I accomplish had I not posted them on Facebook. It’s basically a quick and easy way of letting everyone know what I’m up to so I don’t have to individually contact people. And yes, of course, I get likes and supportive comments. Not as many likes as a lot of people, but enough that I know there are people out there that care about me. As a violist who can’t play in tune, I don’t often win competitions or get accepted into programs/orchestras/etc. so it really means a lot to me when I get chosen for something like that, even if it seems trivial or menial to others. Something that means the world to me is often something that a lot of people just slough off or don’t even care about. A good example was the provincial competition I did about a week and half ago. I had qualified for this from a local music festival that I played at in March. A lot of people would take being selected to advance to the provincials for granted, but I was quite honoured to have been selected. There wasn’t much competition, but I still had to play at a certain level to be chosen. They didn’t have to chose anyone if they didn’t feel anyone played up to the standard they set. I’m glad I took the trip to play in the provincial competition. Even though I was unsuccessful and a bit annoyed and upset with the results initially, but I am a much stronger person now.
Anyway, I will stop myself from continuing on that tangent. My point is that I may never play as a soloist with a symphony orchestra or win a big scholarship competition, but I still accomplish things that I am proud of. Frankly, a lot of my proudest accomplishments have nothing to do with winning a competition, or even solo playing for that matter. Most of my top memorable performances are either orchestral or chamber music. I have a few recital performances that I look back upon fondly, but I’m definitely more of an orchestral musician than I am a soloist. The things that I accomplish seem simplistic and menial to others, especially if we’re talking about this violinist in question, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be proud of them or that they don’t mean a lot to me. Even if I never post on Facebook again, I will still be proud of accomplishments I make and there will be people that support me. I think the friends, family and teachers in real life supporting you in your accomplishments are far more important than getting arbitrary likes from your high school classmates with whom you’ve not spoken to in years.
Perhaps I should take a break from Facebook? Perhaps delete my account or at least the app from my phone for a bit? I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t done it yet. As irrational and wrapped up I get about what people post and the likes they get, I’m eventually able to calm down and rationalize it. The moment I can’t eventually come back to rationality is when I take a Facebook break. At the end of the day, it’s not about how many likes you get and how “popular” you are, it’s about your work ethic. I fight everyday to improve my intonation and overall technique. I’m nowhere near where I should be for my level, but the work that I’ve done in the past 3 years of university are certainly commendable. I may not have won a competition or gotten an award to back up my improvement, but I know that I’ve improved and my teacher knows that I’ve improved and that’s all that matters. If other people don’t recognize the incredible amount of work I’ve put in to my technique, then that’s their problem.