When used in the wrong way, social media can be a vice. People often point to online networks (especially Facebook) as time-wasting, argument-starting, bully-breeding, outdoors-avoiding mechanisms that are ruining our society. I’d like to take a moment to reflect on how social media enables our close-knit local music community to grow even stronger and more connected.
I was saddened to learn about the passing of Hot Rod Harris earlier this week. He was one of the first people I met when I made the decision to start playing out in San Diego many years ago. He was so kind, supportive and talented – I felt lucky to know him. The word spread quickly via Facebook, and it’s no surprise that so many people shared my sentiments. As I read peoples’ memories of Hot Rod I felt a bond within the music community, even with people whom I’ve never met, because we all shared the common experience of gratitude for this wonderful man’s presence in our lives. Right away, details for the memorial were offered via a Facebook Event Invite. I plan to go to the memorial and maybe even establish stronger “real-life” relationships with my peers.
Besides being an important resource for bereaved members of our community, social media has empowered us all to connect us via daily inspirations. As many of you may know, local musician Jeffrey Joe has been battling a serious heart condition for some time. His self-proclaimed “Big Ol’ Heart” has been the bane, and in many ways, the blessing of his existence. Thanks to Facebook, we are all along for the ride. An avid Facebook user, Jeffrey Joe often updates his online friends, fans and family on his latest appointments, procedures, triumphs and pitfalls. Along the way, he offers insights on staying positive, expressing gratitude, living for the moment, and loving openly, juxtaposed with a sharp wit and unapologetic political/cultural views. Whether people agree with him or not, they are engaged by his honesty and vulnerability. Connecting with Jeffrey Joe on Facebook is not a time-wasting, mindless activity. It’s like sharing your daily cup of coffee with an old friend.
Unfortunately, Jeffrey Joe has been in the hospital since Monday evening. Fortunately, he is in a highly-esteemed hospital receiving wonderful care. Again, social media has allowed our local music community to know all of this almost immediately. The “Jeffrey Joe Fan Club,” as I call it, can stay informed and reach out their hands via loving words and positive energy. It’s a shame that such tragic circumstances bring the power of “online” humanity to life, but there is comfort in knowing full-fledged love and support is only a click way in times of need.
I have never experienced such a strong music community. I am so grateful for the love and kindness local musicians have shown each other both at live shows and online. Because of them, love is bursting through the internet and the air is thick with love for both Hot Rod Harris and Jeffrey Joe. Say what you will about the evils of technology, but I will be so grateful to one Mr. Mark Zuckerberg as I read all of your kind words to one Mr. Jeffrey Joe tomorrow afternoon at the hospital. I know JJ will be grateful too.