I don’t know how many people actually saw it, but John had a surprise for us over the weekend. Not quite satisfied with the birthday message he’d videoed for all to see, he “couldn’t resist” taking to Instagram live for a bit on Saturday.
I wasn’t around during the time he was actually “live”, but somehow I stumbled upon it later and was able to watch. While there were obviously sound problems (his sound went in and out during some of the most inopportune moments – so we’d only hear part of his answer to questions that fans were asking), it was really fun seeing him take to Instagram completely on his own that day.
I remember the days when John was on Twitter. He seemed to really take to the platform and would often get online for a few minutes at a time, navigating through a barrage of questions. Somewhat abruptly, he quit Twitter, and we didn’t really see or hear much from him again on any social media. Until recently, that is. It began with a Twitter Q&A, which – in my own opinion, was a nightmare. It has nothing to do with John, per se, but with fans themselves.
Any time the band gets on to Twitter, or anywhere that fans can directly engage – it’s a shit show of epic proportion. Yes, I said that. Truth be told, I find those moments oddly entertaining every once in a while, primarily because I’m not the one on the firing line. I’m in the peanut gallery, watching, making my own comments, and quite frankly – frolicking amongst the insanity.
My thinking is, I’m never going to get a single word in edgewise anyway, so best not to take any of it seriously. When the band started doing the Q&A’s at the beginning of the pandemic, I had some weird sense of hope that it wouldn’t turn into a free-for-all. As soon as the band announced that they’d take questions, it became a game of “How many times can the same person post the same question over and over again? Or “How many ‘I love you’ tweets can one band member receive?? It was utter lunacy. Hate is a strong word, and yet I showed up week after week anyway, so I’ll just say I disliked the exercise. Very much. Watching the Q&A’s was not really joyful, although I tried to find humor in them, and I can’t imagine there was a lot of joy in being the main participant, either. I’d commented to Amanda that all I really wanted was to be able to see and hear the band talk about something other than the new album, where they’d tour, how they were feeling, who they should say “hello” to…etc. etc, and not be interrupted for a change.
I don’t know if the band sensed the disquiet, were just looking for a way to engage without having to engage, or wanted some sort of creative outlet to pass their own time in lockdown. Chances are, it was all of it. Next thing I knew, Simon was doing his radio show with Katy, and John was offering his Stone Love Bass Odyssey chats on Instagram…and then the Q&A’s to follow. My jubilant cries could be seen all over Twitter in one form or another. This was what I’d been wanting all along.
Never did I think though…okay, I can’t really say “never” because I’m pretty sure John would occasionally hop on the DD Instagram to post a photo, or maybe even help Gela with her own…but I can’t swear to it…but I just didn’t see John wanting to do his own live Q&A thing. With fans. Even after Twitter?
Regardless, on Saturday when I saw he’d gone “live”, particularly at what seemed like a spur of the moment thing, I clapped. Yes, I’d missed the entire thing. I didn’t care about that part of it – that wasn’t the point. I mean, from my own point of view, John never minded chatting with fans on the internet. I don’t think he quit Twitter because of fans. As he says, he’s been a fan himself, and in turn I’ve appreciated how aware he is to the whole fan/idol debacle. On Saturday, he took questions and seemed very happy to be doing it, not at all like he was shackled to the computer, or some other form of torture treatment. I couldn’t see how many people had tuned in live, or how many questions were being hurled his way, but it seemed to go really well despite the obvious audio problems.
I’m not sure if I’m the only fan out there that feels this way, but the issue of quality versus quantity rings especially true. It isn’t the individualized milliseconds of “HiJohnI’mYourBiggestFanCanWePleaseTakeAPhotoRightNow” that I need while the band is on tour, or when I see them out and about. In fact, I’m a whole lot less likely to even approach them than most people, I think. I appreciate the other things, like when they take time out of their own day to do these shows (whether or not they have comments on!), or when they take the time to deconstruct the music and explain the evolution of their part, or whatever else they can come up with, for that matter. I don’t need to know when the next album is coming out, what the titles are, or much of anything about it right now, to be honest. I just like getting past all of that typical stuff and talking about things that matter. The music matters – it’s what got me here to begin with!
Maybe I’m just weird.