Visibility Of Our Lives

September 11, 2013

Heidi Klum was the first result in a search for "visibility," so she's the photo for this post (Courtesy: Frazer Harrison/Getty)
Heidi Klum was the first result in a search for “visibility,” so she’s the photo for this post (Courtesy: Frazer Harrison/Getty)

Do you ever feel like everything has to be so visible now, that sometimes your work suffers because of it?

Sometimes I feel that what we actually can offer the world is only maybe 40% of the equation (perhaps less). The other 60% is how we package it/how we’re perceived.

Maybe that’s always been the case. And perhaps the percentages are off (in either direction).

But back before instagram, twitter, and all of this, I felt that you used to be able to just dive into a project. Sure, you cared about what people thought. But not to the same degree.

Now I feel like everything has to be visible. You have to always show what you’re doing. And if you’re not… well, don’t look around, because everyone else is.

Many projects in life worth doing are time consuming… and possibly not that interesting to watch happen.

For instance, when I sit around all day to end up having written half a song I like (that’ll probably be changed later anyway), that’s not interesting to show.

Behind the scenes tweets from a real production someday? Maybe that would be interesting… But musicals usually take many years from inception to production.

Seeing a musical grow – seeing it from reading to workshop and so forth might be interesting. But those things happen once the final product is done. The grunt work – the boring (from the outside, though of course riveting from the writer’s perspective), time-consuming, monotonous-seeming writing – the crafting of a product that’s worth sharing – that’s not that interesting to watch.

Another example: school. I’m in classes at Harvard Extension right now. They’re interesting to me. I do plan on talking about them in general with how it’s going, and what it’s like to take classes there.

But the day in, day out, readings and homework – there’s not a lot to show about that. Sure, there’s a report card at the end of a semester. And someday there’s a diploma if I’d ever get that far.

But the work part, the actual time-consuming work part of things… it’s just not that interesting.

That’s why in movies they just montage over all that stuff. A few scenes of punching bags, and someone’s a great boxer. One dance number and the person’s become a pro. We just gloss over the actual gritty work part because it’s boring to watch someone do their 10,000 hours to be great at something.

We only want to see the greatness that comes, not the hard work in getting there.

…Unless the work is interestingly packaged. And I suppose that’s the trick. Probably almost anything can be interesting if someone figures out how to make it interesting.

Some of it doesn’t even have to be interesting if it comes from the right person.

That’s why Justin Bieber gets 59k retweets (and who knows how many mentions) from “Great Sunday so far.” In general, that’s a pretty awful tweet. (Sorry, Justin.) But people are interested in what he has to say – even if he doesn’t really say anything.

Assuming we’re not megastars (yet), I suppose it’s about packaging our lives to look as interesting as possible.

I’m not a great marketer! It’s not something I’m wildly interested in. That doesn’t mean I ignore marketing and the importance of it. But it’s not my favorite thing.

Yet, I feel the need to have something to show for my days. In high school, I used to be able to just hole up and play saxophone for however many hours a day, however many days in a row I wanted. But now, what would I say on twitter if I were just mastering a new tough solo?

If you’re doing something but no one knows, are you really doing something?

Of course you are. And if you’re building something great, eventually it’s going to happen. People will be wowed, and you’ll get your legion of twitter followers. But the world moves so fast. If you build something great and no one’s there to listen, who sees it?

We all have to have this internet presence. As we’re building it, we have to also try to hold onto whatever we’ve built thus far. I just feel as though in general, practically all of our lives have to be packaged now. (And I have so not figured out the the secrets behind doing that.)

Do you feel the need to package your life? And does this stress you out at all?

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?