A lot of what I see from my fellow singers on the internet is the finished product: the production photos, backstage photos, face on the wall of the Met photos.
Behind the scenes, a lot of what I talk to my fellow singers about is the “industry” - how much it sucks, how hard the struggle is, how close to the brink we all are.
I’ve learned through a lot of experience, interest, and research that social media is a mood-altering drug. It interacts with our dopamine levels the same way addictive substances do. A little hit of the feel-goods, our neurochemical response requires balance, we feel a little bit of the opposite of feel-good. We seek more feel-good from the same source, our come down is bigger next time — on and on until we don’t really feel any good at all, only pain and the worse pain that comes after trying to ease the pain.
Most of us aren’t puritans. We’re not giving up the internet or social media.
But we should know how it affects us. What is the line between a delicious morning cappuccino and the caffeine jitters? A glass of wine and being sad — sloppy — drunk? We know how substances affect us. We recognize: “I’m feeling weepy because when I drink a bottle of wine, I get weepy.” “I’m feeling on edge because when I drink two cups of coffee, my nerves start to fray.”
What happens to you when you spend too much time in the online dopamine cycle? Can you draw a line between your mood and the amount of endless scroll you’ve consumed?
I get jealous. I feel left out. I feel hopeless, depressed, anxious. I start resenting every smile. I blame myself for being weak and small-hearted. I turn it inwards. I hate myself for my inaction — look at all these vibrant lives and careers. Why haven’t I done what I need to do to get there?
Recently, Elsa van den Heever wrote a post about her dyslexia and how challenging it was for her to learn and perform C in Strauss’s Elektra. It was an amazing ray of insight, heartfelt and moving. It lifted me up. It was not trite or coy. It made a small difference, to me, probably to many.
I am no longer interested in being only and forever grateful, agreeable, perfect in public and embittered behind closed doors.
I don’t like the taste of bitterness. It does nothing for me or the peers with whom I share it.
What if we refocused?
I share a stepping stone.
I share a trial.
I share joy/love/a reason/what’s good.
I defend my art — not the institutionalized imprint of it, which can feel like everything when we let it, but is just a shadow world.
I share a stepping stone:
I found a beautiful space to sing. I share it with bands and other Dresden musicians. It is grungy and artsy and full of life and music. I am happy there. I am working on a retro pop project.
I share a trial:
I have been ignored by almost 80 agents. I have sent, edited, resent materials. I have sung for a small amount of them — most of whom have been ignoring me since. I lose trust in the process of getting others to recognize what I have to offer. I continue offering. I rest. I take things slow. I burst forward, slam into the wall, start again.
I share joy/love/a reason/what’s good:
I’ve rediscovered the release of my voice by belting, whistle-toning, screaming, experimenting. I am so happy here. I listen to Birgit Nilsson sing Vissi d’arte — there is no artifice there. It is a girl’s voice. Immediate, honest. Immediate. The voice is immediate. I release the shackles. I sing along to Rozzi, Kelly, Beyonce. I release my voice.