FEATURE: The Mixing Desk: From Social Media to Sociability



The Mixing Desk


 ALL PHOTOS: Unsplash 

From Social Media to Sociability


ACCORDING to Graham Coxon…


in Blur’s hit, Coffee & TV; sociability, it seems, can be a tricky thing. I am in the position where most of my daily dealings are completed through the Internet. I do not get out to gigs a lot and feel a little disconnected from the outside world. It seems like an odd statement saying, given the people I contact and how much I do; to suggest I am not connected to people is a bit strange. We all get into the routine of social media and spending a lot of our day checking it out. How many of us ever get the chance to switch stuff off and get out into the world?! Many might spend a few nights a week chilling out – many have guilt at being away from their screens. Even when we go out; how many are checking their phones for texts and updates on social media?! It becomes a bit of a hook and crutch, I guess. I have written about social aspects of music and explored it through different lenses. From the difficulty of dating and finding like-minded others to the difficulty of getting out of the house and spending time away from music; we are all a little less sociable than the generation before. I cannot claim the Internet is solely responsible for that reality. Rent prices have gone up and many people do not have as much disposable income as they’d like.


It is challenging balancing work and social time so that we do not neglect the former too much. Musicians are among the most deprived and hard-working in the world, I think. The pressure on their shoulders mean they do not get many hours to get out into the open and forget about things. I know dating and socialising are different things – many of us find the former much harder than the latter. I have pitched a way musicians could date similar-minded folks and shrug off all the pitfalls and heartache of the dating circuit. Having a drink and seeing a gig is a different thing, I know. Even that can be a bit of an obstacle for a lot of people. The more we get addicted to social media and the less time we spend away from the screens; the harder it becomes to adapt to a normal, more sociable life. I wonder whether we have all become too used to a social media way of life. Even the people I know in couples are getting out there less and meeting new people. Perhaps rising prices and a more expensive night out is leading many more to settle in with a box-set and ignore all that is out there. I am writing this piece because I have spent so much time writing on a laptop and have not really got out there and mingled. It is like being an outsider at school: sitting in the corner and watching others have all the fun. The same is true of many other creatives and musicians I know.


The more we engross ourselves in an easier and lonelier existence; the harder it can get when we finally dispense with the distraction and see what is out there. It may sound a bit patronising but, as I suggested a few months back; we can design something for musicians and journalists that sort of ‘eases’ them back into society (that did sound a bit condescending!). Whether we establish a club or a music-themed night; it would be possible to get a lot of similar folks together in conversation. Most of us, in music, go to gigs to see people like us. There is not a lot of conversation when we go to gigs: we are there to see the artists and it can get pretty loud. If we go to bars and clubs; we go with friends and often stick to the same places. It is a lot safer and less stressful getting into habits and not pushing ourselves. What I worry is many of us are unhappier than we were and there is a rising issue around mental-health. Human contact is a good way of easing stress and distracting ourselves from all the strains and demands of the average day. Another problem we face concerns those who live outside of cities. A lot of towns do not have many bars and spaces where we can converse and gather. Cities can be quite daunting and it is hard seeing where we head to find those we can communicate with and like.


I am hearing from a lot of musicians who dedicate their every spare moment to music. They do not want to give it up but, at the same time, feel there is very little opportunity to forget about their jobs and enjoy a night out. What, then, can we do to unite those who do not want to forget about music but still enjoy the pleasures of other people?! For those who want to date or find friends; there are few bespoke areas and avenues they can explore. I keep hearing about failed dates and many bemoaning the expensiveness of a night on the town. Maybe ‘The Mixing Desk’ would be a good name for a chain of, cafes/bars that cater to those who love music. You would have the benefit of being in a comfortable and communal church without all the nerves and annoyances of a crowded and bustling bar. There could be jukeboxes and gigs; a themed décor that mixes classic and nostalgic touches with the modern and fresh. Keeping prices low and the atmosphere accessible means everyone could go and socialise with people who think like them – make contacts and connections whilst enjoying some time to unwind. Even if there was not a bespoke and new venture like this; it is clear we all need to afford ourselves the chance to get away from the distraction of technology. I come back to that feeling of guilt and feeling rather lost if we give ourselves a night or two off.


By offering a transition and space where musicians, writers and D.J.s can converse, conspire and flourish; it eases that sense of guilt and provides a perfect balance of work and socialisation. Maybe there are those out there happy to stay inside and commit themselves to work; others are okay with the patterns they have and the way they are living. I feel there is too much unhappiness and stress bubbling up. We get into the groove that social media is where it is at and that provides us with a real and worthy connection. That view and assumption is a falsehood: it cannot replace the benefits of real connection and bonding with another human being. So many people have work mounting up and, by the time they come home from work; they either have to think about the next day or, if they are a musician, gigs and plans around that take precedence. My entrepreneurial mind often spins out ideas and ventures that could turn into something good. I am one of those who shut the world away and gives little time to others in the world. That is not as a result of being aloof and closed-off: I find I have little energy when I am through doing all my writing. Who knows what will become of us if we all continue down the path we are walking.


Things will get more expensive and we will all get busier and less relaxed. Although a special space is not strong enough to tackle every problem out there. The bottom line is that we all need to give ourselves some more time away from screens and get back in touch with the common man/woman. I am one of those who do not heed my own advice as much as I should. I am finding things getting rather hectic and do not have the motivation to get out into the world and give myself a break. I am not the only one who struggles to get out of that headspace. The more we disappear down the social media hole; the trickier it can be to get back into normal society. That may sound extreme but I wonder whether we start to lose conversation skills and confidence when we spend a lot of time online. Many people in music feel isolated and alone when they go for a night out. Maybe the people they speak to do not have common interests and it is hard negotiating when it comes to conversation. There are so many musicians and talented people who feel the same way about the world but are divided by the Internet. Let’s all give ourselves more credit and put down the digital distractions for a couple of nights. If one were to come up with a specialised music zone where it would house awaiting friends – or dates – and strip away anxieties; I feel that can only be a good thing. At the very least; we need to look at our lives and wonder whether we are as fulfilled, happy and outgoing as we can be – and many of us want to be. When that sort of question is posed, and we struggle for reasonable answers; a rather sobering and troubling answer comes to the fore: we are unable to get out of a rather limited and unhealthy routine. That can change, for sure. With a bit of resolve and necessary effort; all of us can commit to some social time and, when the effects are tabulated and highlighted; the results will be…


RATHER pleasing indeed.