Social media is a melting pot for piping and drumming. Twenty years ago, unless you played in a band with someone, or hung out with them in solo circles, or maybe went to a piping and drumming summer school, you’d hardly know anything substantial about anyone.
Facebook is the default social “platform” (ugh word) for our “community.” It’s a friendly place, where “positivity” (ugh) is encouraged, and things are generally hunky-dory. Twitter is far less popular with us, perhaps since it’s more a place of terse thoughts and quick links than photos of a fluffy white westie that looks nothing, nothing at all like her owner.
Used to be that competition rivalry produced automatic suspicion and general dislike between bands. Now, I think largely because of social media and the fact that people tend to bounce between bands, everyone seems to get along just grand all together. It’s all one big massed-band, where we wish each other the best: Play well! That was awesome! Great job! Your competition rival could be playing next to you in a week, so you’d better be nice, and use your emoticons wisely.
I’m all for informed and fair opinion, but if Seumas MacNeill published today the savage and one-sided commentary he routinely wrote from his bully pulpit in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, he would be flayed alive on social media. Woe betide anyone making unfair personal attacks on pipers and drummers these days.
Social media has made us all “friends” and “followers.”
But LinkedIn provides an interesting new element for pipers and drummers. We share the common ground and camaraderie of piping, drumming and pipe bands, and we don’t much care what we do in real life – that is, life outside of piping and drumming.
Many pipers and drummers are a “connection” on my LinkedIn account, and there I can discover what these friends actually do for a living.
- Alumni Officer at Queen’s University Belfast
- Mental Health Nurse Consultant at City of Toronto
- Supply Chain Specialist Sales at Oracle
- Managing Director at Revolution Technologies
Where we normally see each other in terms of bands and playing, on LinkedIn you suddenly see people in strange work attire, listing accomplishments and jobs that don’t include contests and bands.
- Technical Sales Representative at Dawn Food Products
- Director of Engineering at SwiftStack Inc.
- Senior Legal Counsel at Auditor General of Canada
- President & CEO at LBMX Inc.
It can be a bit jarring, if not comforting, that they lead actual real lives with real challenges that go beyond whether they’ll make a blooter in the MSR.
- Senior Systems Analyst at University of British Columbia
- VP, Creative Director at Rivet
- U.S. Immigration Lawyer
- Sales Coordinator/Graphic Artist at Sportfactor Inc.
While Facebook has made piping and drumming a friendly melting pot of mostly golly-gee friendliness, LinkedIn is a reality snapshot.
- Head of Marketing Communications at Kames Capital
- Health, Safety & Environmental Co-ordinator at National Oilwell Varco
- Global RA Director at GE Healthcare, Life Sciences
- Lecturer at San Jose State University
There are, of course, a number of my LinkedIn connections who list piping and drumming teaching or businesses as their employment, and that too is something that has been a major positive change in the last 20 years. But it’s the real-world jobs that interest me – the accomplished, avocational pipers and drummers who are also accomplished professionals in a completely different vocation.
- Advancement Officer at Canadian Museum of Nature
- Owner at The Railstop Restaurant
- Executive Director at Music Nova Scotia
- Research Assistant at Syracuse University
Thinking about it, I’m not sure if something like Piping Live! would be as successful without social media. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, I’d have had a hard time imagining hanging out with the suspicious characters from rival bands. You’d pretty much keep to your own kind, and hope the other guys got the worst of the weather. Sad, but true.
There’s a whole helluvalotta respect today for each other.
After all, it’s what we do.