February 26, 2007

Let your dim light shine

Social networking media – blogs, forums, newsgroups, MySpace and all that – have been huge for the last three years or so. They have brought communities together online, and the piping and drumming world is no exception.

The first was the pretty-much-now-defunct rec.music.makers.bagpipe, which started in DOS format back in the early 1990s. It became a wretched cesspool of innuendo and slander, unfortunately spoiled by a few nonentities who discovered that they could shout at lots of people and no one could stop them. But, by and large, online forums have been beneficial and benign.

I know that there are several top bands that have a decree that no one in the band, no matter what, is allowed to post their thoughts online. They are banned from expressing their opinions, presumably for fear that they will come back to haunt their home band in some way. To me this is paranoid and just a little deluded. It’s also completely lacking in fun.

A band that categorically prohibits players from expressing their opinions about their passion is downright draconian. I can understand if some Juvenile band responds to parents’ concern that the kids should not be posting to forums. But a band banning adults from posting their intelligent comments treats its members like children. It says, “You can’t be trusted to do the right thing, and you can only make the band look stupid because you’re too dim to be smart.”

These bands are littered with pipers and drummers who could otherwise provide real insight, and actually make the band look intelligent. The band world needs to stop being so paranoid. Judges judge what they hear and nothing else. If a band is competing in contests judged by anyone responding to posts on the net, maybe they should avoid those events – or use the net to speak out against them.

If a band can’t trust its players to demonstrate and share their intelligence, common sense, and expertise online, maybe it should reassess what it’s all about.




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