I'm quiet-quitting Instagram 

Remember when everybody was talking about quiet-quitting? And then everybody else was like, "Wait, 'quiet-quitting'? Don't you mean simply having work-life boundaries?" Yeah, good times.

Last year I took a big step back from social media, which in retrospect is a form of quiet-quitting. The reasons are threefold: 1) Personal: Creating "content" adds value to Meta and gives little value back to me, 2) Ethical: Meta, for fear of losing value, manufactures a cost of quitting its services, and 3) Economical: Despite that cost of quitting, I have gained much more than I've lost. I'll close with Resolution: Toward a more mindful social networking.

Personal: Creating "content" adds value to Meta and gives little value back to me

Social media is only as valuable as the value its users bring to it. In the case of Instagram, it derives much of its value from the free labor of so-called "content creators," as is the case for all user-generated content platforms. Somewhere in the late 2000s or early 2010s, there was a covert shift from "social networking" to what is now called "social media," wherein every individual was made into an unpaid broadcaster of media.[1] As for me, I'm no longer interested in creating so much "content" for this platform while a billionaire uses my labor to rake in ad revenue and data-mine my friends and followers. This is but one of many ethical failings of Meta et al.

Ethical: Meta, for fear of losing value, manufactures a cost of quitting its services

Meta litigates against upstarts, just as Twitter whittles away its API support, in a trend some call the enshittification of social media, all with the intent of preventing users from leaving to greener pastures. This then allows these companies to abuse users, because "as bad as they've made things for you, you'd have to endure worse if you left," what Cory Doctorow calls a "switching cost."[2] That cost, however real or imagined, may be losing some amenities, a sense of community, or in my case, freelance income. And yet, I've found the cost of quitting is worth it.

Economical: Despite that cost of quitting, I have gained much more than I've lost

I used to believe that being active on Instagram was crucial to having success as a freelancer. If I compare 2022 (my least active year on IG) to 2021, admittedly my revenue went down ~$200, but this is not nearly enough of a dent for me to consider a causation. What I gained was a healthier mind, which is worth a lot more than $200/year. I spent my newfound mental energy working on projects that matter to me, that pay me back in some way, not creating content because I thought I had to. Instead of spending time and energy developing parasocial connections with my friends and peers, I can spend that time on truly fulfilling social connections with them.

Resolution: Toward a more mindful social networking

Social networking existed before Facebook. It existed before the internet.[1-1] Each of us has a living network of relationships. Instagram is just a facsimile of that. With all this being said, I still find some use out of Instagram. It's still worth me while for me to have a profile and post on occasion, but I'll be doing the bare minimum, which is why I'm using the term quiet-quitting. I've come to see Instagram like a kind of waiting room for my work and social life; it's like a gate to more effective ways of connecting. If you want to keep in closer contact with me, I've got a phone number, email, and email newsletter, so let's really connect! :)

Tech moguls like Zuckerberg have manufactured our dependence on their products. But it's not the products themselves that I find valuable. The thing that truly makes social media valuable is the people who use it (sociologists and economists call this phenomenon "network effects")[2-1], and the people are out there, with or without Meta. I, for one, am walking, touching grass, voting with my feet (and my finger), and shaking the dust from my sandals.

  1. The end of social media - The Gray Area with Sean Illing - Listen online↩︎↩︎
  2. Commentary: Cory Doctorow: Social Quitting – Locus Online↩︎↩︎

To be strong is to be vulnerable 

In February 2023, I attended Folk Alliance International for the first time. I've come away with a deeper conviction of my two callings as a singer-songwriter: the first is to present myself vulnerably, the second is to create space for others to do the same. I believe music gives us an opportunity to connect more intimately than we could without it. While at the conference, I learned more about this from Mary Gauthier as well as from my experience performing a private showcase.

Mary Gauthier quickly became one of my favorite songwriters once I heard her album Rifles and Rosary Beads and more so after I first I heard her talk about the practice and process of songwriting on The Working Songwriter, where she said the reason we write is to find our voice and then use it to serve others.[1] At the conference, she shared about coming up in the Boston folk scene as a gay, overweight, Southern woman and how she had to work through all her self-loathing in order to find and use her voice. Having been through all that, she gave us the advice that you can't care what other people will think when you're onstage. Goodness, I wish I had been reminded of that before I went on to do my private showcase earlier in the week!

A good performance is technically strong, maybe even flawless, but a great performance is unguarded and unashamed of its flaws. I'm still learning how to be unguarded. As a genderqueer person living in quite a transphobic political world, I have often felt self-conscious in public, which is a big obstacle for me as a performer. More and more, however, I feel galvanized to just be myself, for the promise of real intimacy and in resistance to those forces that would keep me down. Shel Silverstein's poem "Masks" has always hit me with the fear of God.

She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through.
Then passed right by—
And never knew.

To connect with someone else through song, you need the fortitude to not only reach inward, but to reach out beyond yourself. Mary says when you get personal with your work, you're almost there; it's when you get deeply personal that you transcend yourself and speak to something universal. And I think the deeply personal lies beneath ego, there at the ground of being that we all have in common: fear and love, sadness and hope, doubt and faith. Sharing in this way is how lives and relationships and eventually even societies are transformed.

  1. The Working Songwriter: Mary Gauthier↩︎

Full-Time Music-Making & Patreon 

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know I’ve got a Patreon. Patreon is where fans can become patrons and give back to my music-making.

Recently, I’ve made the shift into full-time self-employed music-making: as a singer-songwriter, music educator, and mixing/mastering engineer. This is living the dream for me! And I want to invite you into my work more deeply. To aid me in my journey as an artist, I’ve re-launched my Patreon, where you can become a patron for just $1 or more per month. Thanks to my patrons, for the last year, I’ve been able to break even with my releases, and now, in the last six months, I’m starting to see a return.

Every other week on Patreon, I’ll be sharing a new iPhone demo of an original song in a series I like to call Demo-Listen Derby. Have a listen to the latest demo in the Derby below. This one is a freebie for all. Become a patron to hear more of what’s to come and receive early access to new releases and even unlock my back catalog, which includes cover songs, early mixes, lyrics drafts, etc.

If you would like to give back to join this inner circle of music friends, click here to find out how to become a patron.

New single "Everybody is a Fool" out Apr 17  

“Everybody is a Fool,” the first single in my new song cycle, comes out Fri, Apr 17. Patreon supporters can hear it now by pledging $1 or more. Click the cat to be directed to my Patreon.

This is the first single in my new project “The Old Soul and the Holy Fool,” a song cycle about relationships and self-realization. As a depiction of the slow process of self-realization, I’m gradually releasing these songs as singles, documenting my becoming as I record them individually over a period of time. 

The process of writing, recording, and mixing “Everybody is a Fool” has felt at times like a labor of love or otherwise a fool’s errand. The song itself is at least three years old, has been revised countless times, and wasn’t shown to the public until years after its inception. I recorded three different sessions over the course of a few weeks, and during the recording process, entirely re-wrote the lyrics and the guitar part. Then I spent over a month tinkering with the mix, hit a wall, sought professional (mixing) help, and eventually decided I would use my own mix after all. 

Along the way of creating this, I have learned the importance of letting go and trusting the process And by either serendipity or providence, it turns out that’s kind of what this song was always about. 

“The more you learn, the less you know, and I’ve sure got a ways to go.”

Live on Long Beach Public Radio 

Sunday, Mar 29 at 1pm PST, I'm honored to be a guest on Long Beach Public Radio's show Let's Cope, a new Quarantine Series. I'll be chatting with the KLBP crew and performing some music. You can stream the show live on or via TuneIn, or if you're in the Long Beach area, tune-in all old-school-like at 99.1 FM.

Spotlight On The City: Long Beach, CA 

"I Don't Know the Way" was recently featured on BTRtoday's show Spotlight On The City, along with a host of other songs native to Long Beach, CA. Listen to the full show here, and hear "I Don't Know the Way" at the 70:22 minute mark.

Thank you so much, Lottie, for having my music on the show!

Paul Smith 22 West Live Session 

I recently had the pleasure of playing in my friend Paul Smith's guitar trio along with Zack Caplinger. Paul is perhaps my favorite guitarist whom I can also call a friend. 

Thank you 22 West Media for having us, and thank you Paul for inviting me to accompany you on your songs with Zack. It was such a joy!