The long-time popularity of social media among pipers and drummers is no coincidence. Social networking has been labeled antisocial for many years, as the world bemoans the fact that no one actually talks to each other anymore, choosing instead to accept as many “friends” as possible on Facebook.
I wish there were stats for this, but my hunch is that the piping and drumming community outpaced other groups in Facebook uptake in the early days of the social platform. And is it any wonder? We pipers and drummers are, by and large, a bunch of introverts attracted to the solo spotlight, so the narcissistic nature of Facebook is a perfect stage for our “look at me, me, me, me” mentality.
Sitting on my amateur psychologist’s couch, I think that most of us are attracted to the whole kilt-wearing, noise-making, parade-walking, centre-of-attention instrument as a convenient means to step into the spotlight without having to say a word. We let the spectacle do the talking. When we’re at piping and drumming social events, we generally thirst for a bit of Dutch Courage to allow us to intermingle, taking the edge off of actual encounters with – yikes! – other humans.
As with everything, there are exceptions. There are the odd extroverts in piping and drumming. They stand well apart from the near-silent majority. They do their strange thing and are generally celebrated freaks in our little self-centred community. The rest of us would much rather be in the basement, hammering away at the practice chanter or drum pad, standing before a mirror gazing longingly at our own image without the bother of others. Our best performances invariably are shared only with an audience of one, and perhaps the family pet.
I’ve said before that solo piping and drumming is a selfish conceit. We might kid ourselves that others actually care, but in truth we compete solo for strictly personal reasons, each of which we resolve on our own terms. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. My diagnosis: it is what it is. If it makes you happy; do it.
And Facebook provides the same release. Look at me! Listen to my doublings! What a wonderfully colourful kilt I’m wearing! Here I am guzzling a pint! I won! I’m in a parade! I have a thousand “friends”!
Facebook is the world’s biggest massed band. We’re friends with everyone and almost no one. Our common bond is our music. Our keyboard becomes a surrogate practice chanter or pad.