Just looking over my Linked In contacts, none of whom I have ever interacted with, and it occurred to me that I am incredibly bad at keeping in touch with people. Not with friends…I’ve had many of the same friends for decades. Friends I got. That’s not the problem. It’s the circles beyond friends that I can’t seem to maintain. For example, I spent 15 years working at Disney and loved it, knew all kinds of people I was very close to, almost none of whom I have bothered to keep in touch with at all. They reached out, too. I never bothered reaching back. And even the tiny handful I did keep in touch with I barely ever talk to. I spent ten years at US Borax before then and I don’t even remember the names. You are supposed to remember the names. And college? Forget it. High School? You have to be kidding. I can name scarcely a dozen people I went to high school with. Have seen maybe half a dozen since then. College is even worse. There were three roommates. Actually more than three, I just remember those three. I can’t even remember the name of the roommate who fronted me the bread so I could buy my first drum kit. I’m hoping I paid him back.
Then there’s the LA Weekly–I spent seven years there, had a big impact and have maintained connections with nobody. Not a one. Not deliberately, I just sort of dropped off that planet. All those readers, I just disappeared on them. Poof. Gone. In fact, I knew literally hundreds of people on the jazz scene, a lot of them extremely well, and I lost touch with nearly all of them. And jazz people, the musicians anyway, aren’t the easiest people to get to know. You have to prove your worth to earn their respect. Apparently I did. Then I dropped them all. I wrote a long beautiful email and disappeared. (I did that at Disney too.) And I lost touch with almost every single writer I was tight with then, that is my professional colleagues, and all the publicists. All the radio people and booking agents. Record company people. Promoters. Even the musicians. The whole scene. I remember actually purging my contact lists. I remember it felt good, somehow, liberating.
But this is not the way to function in a social media world. All these networks are vital. The people you worked with. The clients and colleagues. Maintaining those connections. Keeping in touch. Meeting new people. And the social media–Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Google Plus and on and on. If you learn how to use those effectively you do well. Get gigs. Make money. Become influential. Why can’t I grasp these concepts? They seem simple enough. How do I explain this to myself? Especially as I’m still doing what I’ve always been doing, still cutting myself off. Case in point: when Mark Zuckerberg told me Brick was a verboten name and I shut down my account rather than bend to His will, I lost contact with most of the people I knew on Facebook. Hundreds of them. I made a half-assed attempt to re-connect with some, and then forgot about it. I now have a Facebook account (I use my wife’s name) but a fraction of the Facebook connections I used to have. Which doesn’t seem to bother me in the least. What am I not getting here?
Maybe I need a social secretary. Back when I was at the Weekly I had a very good friend at Disney who wanted so bad to be my social secretary. Man, she would have been great at it. I mean perfect. A dream. She offered repeatedly. I never did take her up on it. Don’t know why.
Of course, that’s all moot now, since I’ve lost touch with her.