So, as I have mentioned more often than is dignified, I have a theater company. Specifically, an online theater company we started in 2020. We did well critically in our first season, but the opposite of well in terms of making any money. We were also really bad at even breaking even. Frankly, we weren’t so hot at even running at a slight loss. The red we ran in was was, well, REALLY red (I’m not good at colors. One nail polish company I googled to find more precise wording suggested I describe our level of red as “Passion’s Fury,” but I felt that was too vague and, let’s face it, erotically charged).
That’s not terribly awful, though; after all, we’re a non-profit company, and we’re not in it to get rich. Also, as a sidebar, some of you may be thinking, is online theater actually theater? That’s a whole aesthetic debate no one wants me to get into here, but let me just say that I think, if done well and with a vigilance to the medium, it can be. Kinda sorta.
Anyway, this is all to explain we’re desperately trying to expand our audience, and are willing to stoop to almost anything, no matter how ridiculous or degrading, to move the needle even a little. Think I’m exaggerating? Let me disabuse you of that: we’ve decided to start a podcast.
I told you.
It’s been estimated that by 2035, the average American will have 1.5 podcasts of their own, according to something I just made up. Still, I’m sorta looking forward to trying it and I think it may be fun and who knows, possibly help a little bit. But as I prepare for my first recording, it does give me pause: can there be TOO many outlets for self-expression? Are many of us finding it difficult to get through our days in a non-performative way, even when we’re alone?
And really – and I get this is not the best elevator pitch you’ve ever heard – isn’t there something a little, well, maddening that I – a man who has more than once in the middle of a phone call suddenly panicked because I couldn’t find my phone – get more outlets to share my views than so many of history’s great thinkers? That’s a rhetorical question btw. It’s definitely maddening.
I mean, I write for two blogs, tweet gratuitously (as if there were any other way to tweet), write plays, and now I’m inflicting a podcast on a world which already has a pretty full plate? I mean, obviously I’m still going to do it, so my ambivalence can’t be too overpowering, or at least not potent enough to overcome my bottomless need for validation from strangers.
And don’t worry: I get the irony/self-indulgence of using this platform to discuss whether we have too many platforms.
And I mean, am I fooling anyone by my craven use of the plural? It’s me. Worst of all, I have realized that the more time I spend listening to my own voice and honing my own thoughts, the less time I have to absorb those of others. And once again, these forums (I know, forum is singular but even I’m not that pompous), designed to foster community, can have the opposite effect. That might be just me. I do know that it’s not only beneficial to my understanding of the world to listen more than talk, it’s also bliss to get out of the cramped confines of my skull.
I guess what I’m saying is it’s hard to think amidst all of these think pieces. It’s hard to hear one’s own heartbeat amid all this noise, and I’m afraid I am contributing more than my share to the cacophony. And yet, I genuinely believe sites like ours are an unalloyed good. After all, at the bottom of it, I think we read to know we’re less alone than we might sometimes think, and my fellow contributors on Pointless O (that’s apparently what the teens are calling it) are good at contributing work that ultimately serves to provoke self-examination.
I s’pose in the end this post has, ironically, typified the self-indulgence I am worried about. Perhaps some of you might feel similarly, but in the end my main concern is that I’m too busy worried about what I think and feel (and how to phrase it) than I am at simply paying attention to the world around me, and what other people can teach me.
Which I can then blog about.
Anyway, in the spirit of this and out of genuine curiosity, I really would love to know your thoughts about this and hope you’ll share them. I promise I’ll listen.