This week, my Facebook LikePage hit over 900 Likes. I made the Page I think around 2009-10 when I finished University, and I was doing so many different gigs I wanted to put everything into a concise place. That’s why it’s called Henry Raby’s Punk Poetry rather than just ‘Henry Raby’. I wanted people to like the poetry, not the person.
But of course, a LikePage isn’t really the work, and people don’t look at the poem without the poet. Barthes argues the Death of the Author, detaching the writer from his work. I’ll probably examine this in details in another Blogpost, but in performance poetry, you do make yourself into the ‘celebrity’. We talk about ‘bearing your soul’ but at the very least, write about what you know, what you love, hate, believe in and want to change. Unapologetically? It would help. It’s not Henry’s Raby’s work, like the LikePages of deceased authors recycle their work (@Pinter_Quotes is ace), it’s Henry (hi) sharing Henry Raby’s work.
I have been thinking lately how you don’t get much sense of my personality, or even work, from what I share on my LikePage. It’s mainly a mouthpiece to direct people to events, recordings or this blog. The posts are usually “This is coming up” or “I did this”.
So what do I use this Facebook page for, with all 900 people? Well, there’s the fallacy I reach that many, often Facebook tells me it’s been ‘seen’ by about 80 people. And let’s be realistic, where do these 900 people from? People who are my friends for one, and then people associated with the poetry scene. The punk scene. People I’ve connected with in theatre, touring in rural networks. It’s a desperate bunch, so how do I advertise what I do to the wide spread?
The amount of traffic that moves through Facebook is essential for promotion. Sometimes the traffic is a slow trundle, as people scroll through pages on a casual basis. Other times, it’s a squashed marketplace as everyone vies for attention. Just having a Page means keeping up with the traffic, being part of that bustling, or boring, connectivity.
I am increasingly finding Facebook more and more impersonal, and as much as it’s practical aspect is something a promoter comes to rely on, it’s only one form of ‘socialness’. And whilst some artists, Scroobius Pip being a good example, have a great online presence and therefore strong relationship with his audience, fans and friends, I don’t really want to cultivate this presence. I want to feed this into other aspects of life. Admittedly, some of those are other corners of the impersonal internet (hello, this is one) but also make sure that the videos I upload are hints of the live performances, the blogs are about livness, the website is about live events and the promotion of events are central.
I’m not anti-social media, and I don’t think it’s an ‘issue’ that’s affecting millennial that we are glued to screens. But I do think we need to be aware there is the possible of duel worlds, and let’s feed them into one another, let the social media be there to feed into live events, which then go towards feeding into online communities and hubs.