When I was a child, there used to be this television commercial that I’d constantly get bombarded with. I think it was one of those feel-good Latter-Day Saints PSA’s that reminded us tweeners to get along. It had a sing-songy little jingle that went, “That’s the way it is. Truly-uly-uly is, so whatcha gonna do today?” And some little kid would say at the very end, “I think I’ll share,” as a three-note chorus of kid kazoos finished the spot.
Sharing. Who doesn’t like to do that? A friend letting you make mixdiscs from his voluminous music library. A lover feeding you pasta off his/her plate by the forkful at the upscale restaurant. Hitching a ride to some show with some buds so you can make an oil company executive .00000000000000000001 percent poorer. Pointing your popcorn bag at a friend during a movie. Come on, sharing ispretty cool.
But what about those times When Sharing Goes Bad? That could be as dangerous as offering your friends food past its expiration date or getting on Facebook and explaining why your boss needs to have red ants poured in his ears and nostrils—after you’ve added him as a friend. Or how about Sharing As Narcissism, where you can’t help but tell the world about how you’re feeling or what you’re hating about anything in the known universe? What good ever comes out of that? You’re going to bring down a politician? Make Tarantino look at your script? Get Sofia Vergara to come over for chocolate martinis and Scrabble, under the provision she doesn’t wake your mom sleeping in the other room?
Is there a downside to this cultural-technical sharing utopia that allows us to convey ideas, thoughts, (uuuulp) feelings, along with albums and movies that have yet to be officially released? Me? I just get numb. Let’s face it, by virtue of what I do for a living, I get access to plenty of music before its release date—it’s both a perk and part of the process. So why would I compromise my employment by leaking a high-profile record onto the internet so I could share it with a bunch of people I don’t know? What do I get out of it? Now, if you want to come over to the house with a case of Monty Python And The Holy Grail Ale and some sushi, I’ll be more than happy to supply Wet-Naps and spin the new Chiodos album while we’re noshing. I get fed, you get to hear an album before everyone else. It’s a fair deal. While you’re here, I’ll tell you where the bathroom is, but I’m not going to burn a copy of the disc for you.
Digital/virtual sharing is overrated. The dude that has nine leaked records on his harddrive that I haven’t heard yet? Don’t care. Girls fighting with their besties on Twitter? You’re blocked, Kevla and Shannon. Twenty-year-old guy submitting his two-star opinion of The White Album in his very own Amazon review? Not clicking on it, dudesteak. Middle-aged subscriber who now thinks AP is garbage, but has a website solely dedicated to his 1988 Toyota Camry with 46 photos of the car taken at various angles? Maximum eyeroll. I haven’t listened to the radio in years, but I still find metric tons of static every time I fire up the web browser.
So, let’s make a deal: After the Labor Day weekend, let’s go into personal lockdown mode for one week. No Facebook/MySpace updates, Tweeting, message-board posting (about anything from the perfect guacamole recipe to how allegedly awesome your favorite band is), writing reviews on Amazon of books and records that came out 30 years ago and assorted Tumblr look-at-me-world self-aggrandizing. Even if you do have a copy of the new My Chemical Romance album, nude jpegs of celebrities, the name of the guy your best friend’s wife is sleeping with or some burning commentary about one of the many trades going on in the world of professional sports, keep it to your-fecking-self. Take a week off and bask in the personal, unshared arrogance in exclusively having information that’s so crucial to civilization as we know it. Why, just thinking about it makes you start to feel empowered! Look down at folks who don’t know what you know. Try it.
And if somebody starts a Facebook group of “Screaming Blue Messiahs Fans Unhealthily Obsessed With Christina Hendricks,” I will swear on my SBM bootlegs that I won’t sign up or visit, even with the lure of previously unheard demos and/or footage from covert closet-cams in dressing rooms. Trust.