Adam Hill on social media empire building
My name is Adam Hill. I used to make songs and beat up guitars in a band called The Sunday Best in Nashville. Then I wrote a novel called Old Timer’s Blues, loosely based on the Stringbean murder. Now I blog.
If you’re following along, I figure you’d ask, “Why a blog? Shouldn’t you be on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter trying to build an online empire? This is 2019 for heaven’s sake!” Social Media is an assortment of emotional cigarettes. Because of this, my blog feels like a halfway house. I chose to quit Facebook about a year ago but I get on it sometimes to run an ad for my book in hopes of selling my book. Another reason would be gmail will tell me, “Jennifer sent you a message.” Usually it’s because she got hacked.
I used Instagram up until a few days ago but am abstaining for Lent. I remained on Instagram because there are usually no diatribes. I like book covers, clothes, food, cats, and art. These are all interests Instagram does rather well. The reason I chose Instagram for Lent is because I can tell what the heart button is doing to me. I post about my book. I see some heart button love. I’ve sold 0 books using social media. Nonetheless, I see the heart likes and I feel, “Well maybe it’s worth trying to write.” I don’t see the heart and I feel like, “Why the hell do anything?” That’s a-lot of influence for something that isn’t even real.
I was on social media for two reasons.
To grow a platform to sell books and before that to sell music, and thus make cash. As James Ellroy says, “Green goes with everything and large always fits.” This was/is 80% of my motivation.
My other is reason is I like to enthuse about things. If I like a record, a book or a food spot, I want you to know. I would be a great ambassador. I am not a critic. Really this is more about having a hero complex than it’s about helping anyone. “Adam sure knows cool stuff.”
The smart play is to blog about crime and become seen as an expert on some facet that has to do with Nashville history and crime. Those in the know say I should start a Reddit on topics that pertain to that metric. I should strategically comment on social media accounts that hit that topic. I need to be, “Part of the conversation.” I need to have a newsletter that shares life hacks and recipes. None of this remotely appeals to me. I don’t even want to be an expert on tacos.
The plain truth is, I’ve decided to blog my midlife crisis. Is it a crisis? Yeah, a little bit. Buying a Dodge Challenger and driving to Mexico City, finding a hotel close to Frida Kahlo's house and riding taxis to tacos is not far from my mind most days. It’s a 1 day 3 hour drive. I think I’d cross at Laredo and not at Matamoros. Matamoros sounds terrifying. It sounds like meta morose. Then I’d buy a typewriter and write my own Under The Volcano. That book is the exact opposite of what I need to be doing. Alcohol abuse and descending into despair is not a strategy at this point in life. I need to write a devotional of sorts. Any quick reading of travel to Mexico also expressly forbids driving. Don’t do anything to come into contact with police comes up often. This nixes the Dodge Challenger. This means I’m flying to Mexico City.
Maybe I should just keep a journal? Blogging is so early 2000’s. A midlife crisis blog should be private. But I have to be making something. A song, a book,a picture. When I was in high school I made paintings and recorded to a tape deck. I like to process the geography of my soul in a project. So there’s Instagram’s door number one that would use my feelings as a data swilling profit center. That’s not a good option. Fast Company March/April 2019 has an article by Shoshana Zuboff that says,
“Facebook doesn’t want to harm you, but it gladly extracts data from your pain.”
Mix with the above the science behind the panic that FB and IG put into our brains and it should be enough to send you on a deleting spree. I’m an anxious man. The “news” feeds are emotional cigarettes. Emotional Hari Kari. Emotional Russian Roulette all aimed at our ego. I’ve been reading Paul Jarvis’s newsletter lately, here’s an excerpt from a week ago.
“The like button specifically creates intermittent reinforcement to heighten our desire for social approval. This has been studied numerous times by behavioral psychologists, as a way to shortcut our dopamine system and make us take part in that behavior far more than we should. As in, wanting social approval is a deep human need (we’re social creatures) and getting it at random intervals from people liking our status updates on platforms like Facebook, keep us anxious and compulsively seeking more.”
I’ll drop a bomb on you. I dig performing and writing songs for the attention. I like to be on stage because I want roses and applause like a flipping opera singer. None of it means anything unless there is COLD HARD CASH tied to it. Press. Raves. Reviews. CASH. This is about the worst reason to enjoy being on stage. I love a mic on my voice and a loud hollow body guitar. I can crawl inside the noise like a feather bed. I love the sound of my guitar and think it deserves COLD HARD CASH. I don’t enjoy playing for fun without dreams of world domination creeping in. I don’t connect with the crowd without the feeling of power creeping in. The adulation, that has only deteriorated since my 20’s, gives me meaning. Being on Instagram is like the ability to try (and fail) to feed that jones 24/7.
If this is what it takes to sell books or songs then it’s not a good idea for me. I guess a blog is “I just shared something and I don’t care who knows it” platform building. “I don’t care who knows it,” in a different way than it usually comes across.
Because with a blog on the internet, the chances are no one will know it. You have a book. You need a platform. But building a platform is the worst thing my personality could try to do. Why do I do something mentally bad for me so something even worse will happen?
The meat is, death will come. I’m not prepared. It’ll come for friends, family and me. I’m not remotely ready. I’m in a panic about middle age. Peace has the be found. I’m going to pick topics from my life, things I enjoy and put them through this prism. Where is the joy, meaning, and happiness? I already know that nothing but God will hold up. But, it should be fun.
Country songs, crime novel and now this.