How many times a day do you pause to check Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or any one of the growing number of social-media hubs on the interwebs?
Go on. Take a good minute or two to think about. For the record, I check a couple of dozen times a day. It drives my wife crazy, especially if we're in the middle of a conversation.
Ding, my smartphone goes. And, like one of the sheeple, I automatically check; A new follower on Twitter? A fresh comment on a photo I posted on Facebook about my son?
Important, yes, but not in the middle of discussion with my better half.
Then there's the random log-ons when I have nothing better to do. Or am sitting on the toilet and finally have a moment to myself. I have no idea why that's a good time to see if anyone has posted or tweeted some interesting bit of news, but it usually is.
And more and more often I find myself bone-crunchingly disappointed at what I find.
No offence to my friends and followers.
First, let's touch on the good: On a personal level, Facebook is an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family. I post pictures of our boy for in-laws and aunts and uncles to see and exchange messages. It's easier and cheaper than picking up the phone or sending a parcel in the mail, and can be done at my convenience.
For an artist, filmmaker, musician or writer, social media is a powerful tool to promote and share his or her art.
Singers and songwriters, such as Toronto's Angela Saini and Kamloops' own Anita Eccelston, push their music and shows on Facebook and music-sharing sites like SoundCloud.
Twitter is also good for distributing music, news and promotional material.
The U.S. independent movies 6 Degrees of Hell and The Lost Coast Tapes tweeted during production and built up a healthy following before the films were released this past fall.
It should go without saying that mainstream Hollywood and the music industry heavily market products using social media. But we're here to promote the little guy and gal.
As a B-movie critic and journalist, social media has been a valuable tool in making contact with artists, musicians and filmmakers for interviews and listening to music and watching movies. More and more often I receive films digitally via sites like Dropbox and Vimeo as opposed to hard copies on DVD or Blu-ray.
Where social media is failing - and failing fast - is it's become a dumping ground for everyone's random thoughts, hate speech and desire to update the world on every little thing he or she does.
For every time that @krt324 cautions Kamloops drivers about poor driving conditions there's someone like @DeusExCinema informing me that Marlon Brando's moustache looked like a tree in The Godfather.
Really, man? Really?
Nevermind the people who need to share what they're eating for supper or that they hate slippers.
One follower, whose handle escapes me, tweeted "Blah, blah, blah" all day. You got that right, pal.
There's a trend on Facebook called a meme, which is a concept or idea that spreads as an image, hyperlink, video or website.
Some of these can be an interesting or insightful quote by the Dalai Lama or Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman. That's right, Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman. Most are images of Batman slapping Robin for doing something stupid or a grossly fat cat saying it's disappointed the Mayan apocalypse never happened.
Given the proliferation of the meme, I'm beginning to wish it had.
What's most upsetting is how addicted we, as a society, have become to social media when most of what is offered is mindless distraction. Every time I log on, I say "This is stupid," yet I keep going back.
And I can't think of any solution other than unplugging completely or developing a 12-step program for social-media junkies. I'd be first in rehab.
Jason Hewlett is the arts and entertainment reporter for The Daily News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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