As a lighting designer, I hate blackouts. Most of the time I believe there's a more interesting way to transition between scenes or moments than complete darkness. Life is not usually so abrupt, and I feel that theatre should reflect that.
I did another weird, non-Millenial thing to do this past week. I deactivated my facebook account for the first time ever. Facebook asked me if I was sure I wanted to leave. It asked me why I wanted to leave, and suggested solutions to my reasons that didn't involve abandoning the website. It pointed out that I could come back at any time, and all my content would still be there. All I would have to do is log back in like normal. Essentially deactivating your facebok account hides your profile from others, but it doesn't actually destroy or delete anything.
Today I logged back into my facebook account, and it was indeed like I had never left. I had a backlog of notifications for groups I'm a member of, mostly alerts that strangers had posted photos in Gypsy Housing, actors attempting to sublet their apartments while at out-of-town gigs. I had message notifications for group chats, one among my roommates and one among my best friends, speculating about my unannounced absence. The social media world kept turning, with my profile just orbiting it in the shadows of internet space.
I use facebook as much if not more than the average 20-something; I'll admit I fill a fair amount of down time on the train or during slow periods at work with scrolling through my newsfeed. In this past year in particular I've been actively posting on a very frequent basis, engaging in heated discourse about the presidential race. Though there were points this week where I thought of sharing an article I read in the Times, or posting a guitar video update, nothing was important enough to restore me to the socialsphere. Last night though, as caucus and primary results came in for three democratic contests, I truly missed facebook for the first time. I missed sharing in the excitement or disappointment with my fellow activists and politically aware friends.
In this society, and particularly in this industry, social media is a marketing tool, even for individuals, for ourselves. Entertainers of any trade have to market themselves and create a brand, and that has never been more true than in the digital age where there is an overwhelming number of options available for anything you could imagine. I went to college before facebook was really popular for teenagers, so I didn't have to worry about potential colleges checking my profile, but now we are constantly warned about what future schools or employers might see on our hopefully-carefully-curated personal pages.
My facebook profile is private, with almost no information shared with non-friends, but even among my ever-growing friends list there is a large number of people identified as "oh we had a class together once in college" or "we did a production together that one summer," who are not quite strangers, but almost. They remain in my circles for "networking," because there is an unspoken rule that you never unfriend anyone in the business that you meet, lest that actor become a director casting friends or become famous and need background actors for their project.
So perhaps it is a risk to post political content on a regular basis, from a fairly biased point of view. But my biased point of view feels that being political and being an activist is part of who I am. The play that I'm writing absolutely has a political viewpoint to it, and I care about making work that speaks to our current society and current issues. So being political is a part of my brand. Just as my haircut and tattoos have barred me from ever being a generic, cookie-cutter actress, another brown-eyed, brunette pixie. I'm definitely a specific type, and I've embraced that about myself. I'm pretty sure of who I am and who I want to be, and I hope to create art that celebrates and integrates my personality rather than fitting me into a box that isn't who I am.
I took a break from facebook for a number of reasons, including wanting some space and time for myself without the constant gravitational pull of social media. Ultimately though, I find, I want to be there, branding or not, to share in the world's excitements and disappointments. To be a part of a national conversation, a movement, an idea. Many ideas. I'm just me being me, but as a part of something bigger.