So the newest Cemetery Confessions episode was released today. This is a screen cap of how the promo looks on Facebook.
I originally saw this about 2 hours after it was first posted. I didn't do a screncap at that point because I had no idea I would be later writing this. Looks pretty good right?
Then the first couple of comments on it look like this...
What the hell guys?!?!? Cemetery Confessions is a podcast - a very intellectual one at that - and we get stuff like this on its Facebook page!?! Is this really a representation of what a lot of the Cemetery Confessions listener base is? Do they even listen to the podcast at all?
Admittedly Cemetery Confessions' Facebook presence goes beyond just sharing its own work. They also share interesting pictures, articles, videos, related memes and so forth.
Surely its not like that with other stuff they share there...
Nope. Not touching this one. I've been there before!
Happily, after looking through a few posts (up to September 16th), posts like these aren't common. But a pattern shows with "likes". If something looks pretty on the promo pic/thumbnail it gets a lot of likes. If something is stereotypically goth and well known, it too gets a lot of likes. What doesn't get a lot of likes is the more in-depth and interesting stuff.
A lot of other stuff from The Belfry Network (which is often under the other interesting stuff category) is shared by them too - including things I write. It makes sense as a lot of these videos, articles and podcasts compliment Cemetery Confessions well. That's why we are all featured on The Belfry Network.
Editors Note: Having looked at the metrics of the Cemetery Confessions Facebook page, I can say in general, posts that are article links, range from several hundred to no more than a few thousand views, with less than half of those actually clicking the link, and with less than a dozen comments. Funny photos and memes however, on the very low end start in the thousands, average out in the mid hundreds of thousands, and scale up to millions and several even tens of millions of views. As for listenership crossover, on average the podcast download numbers are 4% of the number of likes on the facebook page (some episodes are much higher some are lower).
This sort of likes for superficial stuff, none for in-depth stuff doesn't just happen on Facebook though. Reddit, youtube, instagram (especially instagram - land of the pretties), tumblr (though its less likes and more shares or blatants steals/reposts to look like a cool innovator)... its everywhere!
Odds are you are cultivating your own brand as I type this. Nowadays social media is geared towards broadcasting so we are all screaming what we think and what we want people to see. But is anyone really listening? A quick like on something pretty is easy to give warm fuzzies and "show support" for something. But to read, listen or watch something that takes time? Not so much.
"...kids these days have an attention span that can only be measured in nano seconds!"
Recently I have been doing some strange things with my own "brand". Picture this. A posting on Facebook by a goth (or goth page) where goths are commenting on the article. Everything is fine, everyone generally looks goth or is wearing black, has black/weird hair etc.
Then this guy rocks up and starts posting :
HAND IN YOUR GOTH CA... oh shit!
That is my current profile picture on Facebook. Bela Lugosi's goth... ungoth, ungoth, ungoth!
This photo is from a recent non-goth gig I did called Neko Nation. So that explains the cat ears/cat girl shirt.
But the blonde hair? Say it isn't so, Joe! But all will be revealed in the next couple of months with that. I like planning months ahead with my silly antics. Come to think of it I haven't had black hair since around November last year...
For me my profile pic tends to change whenever I have done something interesting. Last interesting thing I have done is that gig. In late October I'm DJing at DecaDanse where Leather Strip are playing live fora Halloween event. I will likely have a new pic then too. Will it be goth? It could be anything. Lets just say I've done this for Halloween before...
I dressed up for Halloween, to a Halloween goth/dark alt event mind you (called Synistry), as a Hipster. And boy did the shit hit the fan!
The amount of dirty, contemptuous looks I was getting from people inside Synistry was priceless! Those who didn't know me assumed hipster douchebag, a few who do know me were all "wow thats a change of style" and most did not see that this was a Halloween costume. Interestingly enough very few people were in Halloween costume (a by-product of an early Halloween party plus infrequent events so people tend to follow themes less) so I can see why people didn't get it. I have to admit I felt extremely under-dressed when I was upstairs until I had a fair bit of booze in me.
Anyway, you are likely wondering what is the point of this aside from shredding every goth point I have accrued. The point is when you see comments or participation from an apparent outsider, even if it is relevant, that is often undermined by appearances.
This wasn't always the case though. When the internet was new in the 90s the most you saw of a person might be a tiny picture on their geocities site or the IRC #gothic webpage. You got to know the people first by their words, actions and wanky username.
Quite often people commenting wouldn't look the part and you really wouldn't know their expertise unless you knew them personally or they had some kind of proof.
In today's Cemetery Conferssions podcast, they refer to subcultural capital. Sometimes its transferable online and off, sometimes online it requires capital earned elsewhere online. Reputations are earned and in the goth subculture this has always focused on some knowledge of the music, experience participating in the goth subculture and looking the part (at least some of the time).
Nowadays the big voices people listen to in the goth community online are the ones who usually look the part better than others do. They get their popularity and notoriety because they cultivate their image (or brand) well for wide appeal. So whether they like it or not, they have a lot of responsibility for how they use their power to influence things.
That said it takes balls of steel to put yourself out there like that nowadays as everyone will try to knock you off your perch. So its often a case of knowing the risks and doing it anyway. No matter if I agree with the message someone is portraying or not they get respect for that at least.
So then we get back to how everyone is broadcasting again. Who is listening aside from seeing the superficial? Do you like a link just because the thumbnail is pretty and go no further? Or do you actually sit it out and see if they have something interesting to say? What if the person posting the content isn't conventionally attractive? What if they are old, fat or have a face for radio?
Exhibit A, B and C (plus derp eyes)
I know I'm beginning to sound like an ugly old man complaining that the cool kids won't listen and they need to stay off my lawn. But I have seen plenty of goth subcultural content creators on the internet who have more looks, youth and valid opinions than I do being ignored even more than I am. Yet we all have important things to say. But it seems no one listens to the pretty ones either because they are too enraptured on them... well... being pretty.
This is why live engagement with other people needs to happen. Articles, videos, podcasts all are broadcasting. It isn't like a conversation where you can give feedback right away in real time. I find if I'm giving feedback/reactions to online content I tend to write notes as I go. But then the effort in actually sending it may make me forget to do it or not bother. I can't dismiss a conversation (online or in the real world) so easily. Posting on forums kind of works similar with longer reaction times. I'm not even going into the shit show that is the comments sections on Youtube.
This is why groups on Facebook, forums like reddit and the like are important. They can't be the entirety of your experience with any subculture but they can be part of it. They are a way to learn from active sources instead of static ones who can pick and choose how (or if) they respond. And we need to engage at a level further than merely "liking" things or posting fluff.
Maybe the answer is more live group chats? You know, like how IRC was/is. That could very well be the missing element to move people from being broadcasters into conversationalists. But you can't really monetize that. So maybe... just maybe... that monetization issue is the real problem? I daresay there would be a lot less fluff on youtube if monetization wasn't a thing. At least with crowdsourcing you have to earn fan loyalty money beyond mindless clicks because of pretty thumbnails.
This article may be shared by Cemetery Confessions on Facebook when its published. In fact I'm kind of counting on it. So I'm going to do a little experiment.
I'm going to ask The Count to use a pretty photo of some goth chick (possibly with big boobs because that will get the male viewers in too) as the promo/thumbnail pic for this article. Maybe in PVC or latex to get the fetishists in too. Hell why not a latex vampire with big boobs licking blood off a skull to cover all the bases. Might as well go for a lesbian because people seem to like that sort of thing too. If such an image exists... I'm guessing it likely does on the internet somewhere.
Really Google. you are making this too easy
Lets see how many people just see the promo pic and comment without reading the article. An article that is calling them out for doing just that.
Editors Note: Unfortunately I couldn't find the exact image you wanted that I was able to license, so I went the classy route. If you actually read through this entire article, go ahead and click the little heart at the bottom right, so we can see how many read, vs clicked, verses liked.
-Aytakk has been active in the goth scene since the mid 90s both online and in real life. He firmly believes in the old line "if you don't get the joke, you are the joke". As well as this he produces music for a couple of music projects: Corpulence On The Catwalk (goth/darkwave/coldwave) and Hypnophile (aggrotech/power noise). He is also a club DJ and nemesis of DJ Jelly.