What do you seek?

When you’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, what are you looking for? Something which resonates – makes you feel like you’re not alone, builds you up or affirms your beliefs? Or something dissonant – something uncomfortable, argumentative or unsettling? Recently, I’ve been thinking about the opposite (and Bob Dylan – more on him later). When I post something online, what am I trying to do? What am I looking for? What’s the purpose? Sometimes I’m just trying to drum up business for myself or others, but I’m more interested in the other stuff at the moment – the personal, the political, the artistic. Take, for instance, this blog post. For me, it’s serving several purposes: 1. It’s helping me organise some ideas I’ve had floating around in my head 2. I’m beginning to realise that I like writing 3. Other people seem to like reading what I’ve written. These purposes are absolutely in order of importance and the third would be much further down the list were the list longer. In fact, I’ve been writing for much longer than I’ve been publishing and it’s only a recent flourish of confidence that has got me to show anyone my writing at all. Anyway, back to Bob Dylan. The fact is, everyone’s got an opinion about Bob Dylan. Whether it’s steeped in 1960s folklore about his switch to an electric guitar, the centuries old battle against anti-Semitism or just memories of vomit-scented car journeys to France (sorry Dad), everyone’s got something to say about Bob Dylan. It’s easily argued though, that without everyone having something to say about Bob Dylan, there is no Bob Dylan. Contemporary art is no different. I finished the equally agonising and uplifting I May Destroy You series weeks ago now and the thoughts and ideas it provoked are still whirring around in my head (which is one reason why this blog has taken so long to write!). The central character, battling with truly traumatic events, seeks affirmation online, in face-to-face support groups and from her bafflingly egocentric friends. As an artist, Arabella needs her fans and supporters in order to survive; a situation which very nearly breaks her. More recently I watched From The Rooftops: A Showcase of East Asian Talent, an excellent collection of short dramatic works, part of Reading Fringe Festival. At times hilarious, often challenging and hugely thought-provoking, the pieces do exactly as they have set out: showcased East Asian talent (with the unapologetic and entirely appropriate underlying subtext added by me: to YOU, white theatre-lover). Both pieces are stupendous and definitely provoked a response in me: to the former, a renewed vigour in my challenging of destructive relationships; to the latter, an active seeking-out of works by the performers and authors. Then there’s the scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or Twitter: ‘share if you agree’, ‘like and win’, ‘check out my new post’ (ha!). Some are less-obvious in their reaction-seeking and some even deny they were seeking a reaction at all. When you post something online, what do you seek?

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