Excuse the dramatic headline. I had no other choice.
Last month, Marina Diamandis – you and I know her best in our music libraries as Marina and the Diamonds – launched a site called marinabook. It’s a Tumblr, with the old school emo spirit of a LiveJournal. (And let me tell you, I know a thing or two about being emo.)
Thus far, she’s posted openly and honestly about her mental health, dealing with depression, social media, curation, self-doubt, feeling “flat and zapped” after an Instagram feed scroll, and searching for identity – something most people experience at least once in their life. Or, perhaps many times.
She’s also been sharing healthy mental tips as we all navigate this Brave New Digital World, like apps to help you become less addicted to your phone, meditation tricks and podcasts that might help you escape the daily horrors of the world, if only for a few minutes.
For the impatient fan, all of this might just prompt a “we get it, you hate technology, now give us a new album.” We bitchy, jaded, forever #OverIt millennials already know that the Internet is simultaneously bettering us and worsening us as social creatures, and our attention spans and IRL communication skills are royally fucked.
But knowing that to be true is one thing. Trying to thrive in spite of it is quite another. As a result, Marina actually feels like one of the most relatable pop stars of 2017.
And as a gay man, I’m now required to make her path towards self-discovery all about…me. Hey, I don’t make the rules. Brace yourselves!
Crashing headfirst into my Saturn Return era over the past year or so (not the No Doubt album, but the astrological phenomenon which inspired that record) and fighting through annoyingly lingering depressive episodes (exacerbated by too much alcohol and way too much anonymous sex), I can’t help but relate to Marina’s musings. Hard.
Although I’ve never recorded anything as excellent as “I Am Not a Robot” or “Lies” or “Radioactive” or “I’m a Ruin” (yet – give me a few more vocal lessons), I do create Internet for a living. And honestly? It’s not the same these days. Perhaps because blogging is but a relic of the past, and almost nobody reads anything longer than a tweet, and we’re all just shouting over each other into the void, and pivoting to video, and streaming, and Trump’s America and – alright, enough of that.
The point is: until recently, my career in music journalism (“journalism”) kept me driven for a good decade or so until it defined me as a person. Even before I moved to New York City, I was on an unstoppable mission to interview pop stars, go to shows every night, score bylines in high places and sing the praises of incredible pop music from around the world. And I did! And I’m immensely grateful.
And now, I don’t…really…care.
Or at least, my interest has waned. Significantly. This is such a boring thing to say, but I can’t pretend to be bothered about 90% of what’s hip anymore. (I’m sorry, Noah Cyrus diehards.) And unless it’s someone iconic like Madonna or Janet or Dannii Minogue up there, I can’t be bothered to fight my way through a crowd to get to the front like I used to. I just don’t feel when I skip through the #NewMusicFriday playlist. (Cue Britney‘s For The Record: “there’s no excitement, there’s no passion…”)
That’s not to say there isn’t any good new music out there. There are plenty of talented acts I’m still championing, like Dua Lipa and Kelela. Hell, I’m probably going to post about some great songs immediately after this.
But my stan days are dwindling. Maybe. (Watch Britney drop a surprise album at midnight – I’ll be shaking and crying in caps lock.) I’m growing up, I guess? And reprioritizing. And transitioning. (No, not like that.) I’m thinking about what I do still care about, and trying to do things that feel right until the darkness gives way to my own Blackout moment. Until then, I’m searching for some inspiration, to quote the almighty Grace Jones.
As for Marina and her own creative output? She’ll get there, too. When she’s ready.
“I know one year is like an aeon in digital time! The honest answer is I don’t know when that will be, but the connection I have with music has always flowered from an honest connection with myself, and I trust my instincts,” she wrote in her first post, called “It Takes A Long Time To Get Over Yourself.”
All this is to say: I don’t know exactly what the fuck I’m doing either, Marina. And I think it’s okay.
Because the fact is that everyone loves the album campaign when it’s in full swing, but no one can be bothered by the in-between. It just won’t get you that many likes, you know?
But I’m hardcore in the in-between. And it’s a damn frustrating and lonely place to be.
I realize I’m not actually alone in this (not alone, not alone…), so I hope that whoever else relates to Marina’s digital unease and/or creative rut and/or existential crisis feels comforted by the knowledge that this is a shared experience. And a temporary one.
And then I hope that they log the fuck out.