This past summer, I was in a different state. I was unemployed for the first time in a while. I was living off of a combination of my girlfriend’s kindness and some carefully saved-up and -away money. I had precious little disposable income. It wasn’t so bad, but I didn’t know anyone there, and there were long periods of the day where my girlfriend was at her job. I felt very alone at times. I spent a lot of time on the Internet, especially Twitter, because if I couldn’t find someone there to talk to, what hope did I have in real life?
No money, little human interaction, so naturally, I shopped. Well, mostly window shopped. There were a lot of antique stores, so I could at least burn a big chunk of time digging through old Shriner fezzes, bottlecaps, and of course, records.
I’ve always been a bit of a vinyl fan, but I’ve also been hesitant to declare myself as such. We all know about vinyl fans. They show up to record stores and dig through byzantinely organized album sections, sometimes for hours, and often for a solitary 45 single. They happily pay through the nose for that 45, and take it home to add to their own obsessively cataloged collections. There is a fair chance that they will add the title to a database, and the wax may not ever get played.
I, on the other hand, own about 15, total. A number of records I’ve witnessed people buy on a whim. I keep them rather indifferently organized, and in a little plastic bin. They’re hand-me-downs, just another possession. I derive no more pleasure from them than I do oatmeal: both satisfy a need, in the case that that need arises. It’s not often that the mood for either takes me.
But there I am, lonely, wandering around Uncle Remus collectibles in the middle of Georgia. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the big beaked nose and red scarf of The Shadow. I like the character, and with nothing else to do, I reroute.
Partly hidden behind Lawrence Welk polka compilations, I find The Shadow: Original Radio Broadcasts. Three dollars for a four story collection.
My first instinct is to go online. I send out a tweet.
I get no response. Like I said, I’m not a proper vinyl fan. I know to check for scratches, but I’m not part of the club, I don’t therefore no anyone, even online, to go to for advice. I have questions: Is it rare? Is it over-priced? Is this a reprint? Was this an Orson Welles era production?
But I’m not in the community. I don’t even know what hashtags I would use to draw attention to my tweet. I plunked down three dollars. It was in great shape, and it was worth it just to hear the laugh.
I went to twitter with my question figuring that somehow, the community would find my tweet floating around in the ether. I was young.
I was thinking about this all the drive home from class last night, after talking about Tweets From The Streets and the Arab Spring. We wondered if Twitter is actually creating community or simply giving the community another place to be.
I had fully expected that someone would respond to my tweet, because it’s the Internet, and everyone is sooooo connected. But Internet access does not make a community. I was missing connection, the language, the knowledge of where to go and what to say. I was not a member of the community, even on the Internet, that magical instant community. If I was in the community, did the fan activity, would I have had someone to go to on Twitter? And would that connection via Twitter be the result of an already established community?
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