For the last couple weeks I’ve felt uncharacteristically anxious about posting online. Well, on Twitter mostly, but also here. I’d start writing something and I’d have this overwhelming feeling of anxiety about why I’m writing it and why it matters and if it matters. I wrote out emails to three different people I admire as writers or friends or both about the concept of feeling like I ought to try to freelance write despite not really wanting to do that. I never sent those emails for a few reasons. One, it’s an anxiety not over whether I could (I believe in my own talent and ideas, believe it or not) but rather what my motivation for wanting to really is. At the end of the day, that thought is born of this anxiety toward not wanting to do what I feel like I should want to do. That’s a confusing sentence, but I mean it. The second reason is that emailing people questions you already know the answer to in hopes of being told just that you’re not stupid is ridiculous and a waste of everybody’s time. At this moment, I feel no desire to freelance write outside this concept of feeling like I should want that and also like.. vanity, I guess?
My aversion to posting tweets were related thoughts of why do I do this? Who cares? What am I doing here? This is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife, how did I get here, etc.
So I have all this anxiety about that and about what I like to write and why and I panicked. And since I’ve been reading Cometbus zines and watching the Fran Lebowitz documentary thing (two offline people of equal renown, surely), I decided getting off Twitter was going to fix this.
I was off Twitter for, I don’t know, 40 hours. I was all, “I’m gonna live my life with intentionality and go walking and listen to records and read zines in the park and not post my every thought” which is all fine and good. Notably, I don’t have to be offline to do these things, but whatever.
Turns out not being on Twitter exposed this whole part of my weirdo brain that is screaming at all times. Turns out I need an outlet for at least some of these thoughts because I was trying to read and my brain is just like “EVERYTHING MATTERS SO MUCH I AM SO SCARED AND STUPID TELL EVERYONE HOW SCARED AND STUPID YOU THINK YOU ARE AND HOW MUCH YOU THINK ABOUT ALL OF THEM DYING AND WHAT YOU’D POST ON TWITTER IN THE EVENT OF THEIR DEATH”
So it’s slow going on the reading front. Anyway, why am I pushing my neurotic nature onto you? Well, it reminded me of last year at the front of the pandemic when I, a very online person, got to watch people who usually were not very online adjust to being Very Online. Which was very funny, but also kind of silly and annoying. At the time I made a little zine thing that I posted on Twitter about how to have healthier relationships with the internet.
As a tldr; what that whole thing came down to was, essentially, you’re the master of your own destiny. There are ways to be online in a healthy way, but I think it’s hard to learn what that looks like because we don’t always treat the internet as this real space. Transitioning into being more online is very difficult and it’s about more than internet literacy. We all know that the internet has the capability to make us feel bad, but instead of blaming the Concept Of Social Media overall, maybe you should instead take a look at your behavior and create a space that feels more real and full.
One of my most recent newsletters was about how musicians and the music industry should treat the internet as more of a real space. I think that’s true of everybody. I think it really matters. I think everything really matters.
That’s the other thing I’ve discovered this week. I really think everything matters so much. To answer my anxiety questions from earlier, an interview with myself:
Why do you do this?
Because I like writing and I like music and the internet.
Does it matter?
Yes but not on a grand scale. Most things don’t matter like that.
So why does it matter?
Because I think it matters that people write and document things going on and I think that’s what I’m doing.
Are you happy?
So in my quest to tailor the internet to myself again in an effort to feel happier, I was thinking about how the internet can make me feel really warm and connected to the world in a more solo, less social way. That took me to remembering how much I really love Frankie Cosmos.
I don’t know exactly what the first Frankie Cosmos song I ever listened to was, but I do remember going on her Bandcamp page and being just amazed at this backlog of music. It was probably like 2014. It had to be something off Zentropy that I saw on Tumblr or a review on some website or something. I don’t know. All I know is that I was in high school, Next Thing wasn’t out, and it introduced me to Bandcamp.
None of the bands I liked in high school were like, “hey go buy my album on Bandcamp” it was more like “yoooo we just signed to Pure Noise Records suppy nation babeeeyyy go listen to the split we did for glamour kills” and I would. So for many reasons (both in terms of how I was receiving digital downloads but also, obviously, in terms of any level of multiple gender representation) listening to Frankie Cosmos changed my experience with music and the internet.
Even now, most bands I listen to stick in a very album cycle traditional format. I don’t think that’s wrong or anything, it’s just what made it kind of jarring and exciting to see a Bandcamp page full of demos and old songs. These unprofessionally recorded, dare I say Very DIY full albums of short songs were a totally foreign concept. Of course I’d listened to like demos and live recordings before, but it wasn’t like this.
Every review or article I’ve ever read about Frankie Cosmos mentions the whole “you can hear the rain outside and the sounds of new york city and that’s what makes it DIY” and it’s used as an antithesis to what the band became. I never liked the way that was discussed. It always felt so disingenuous to my experience with the band and with what I think DIY is. I’ve talked at length about why genrefication of DIY is problematic (and about Frankie Cosmos’s role in all of that), but I think it’s such a disservice to what I always felt was special about them to make it all about the sound.
Certainly she was not the only one doing this, obviously not, and of course not the first, but it’s what I found first that I loved. You also don’t have to travel to other pages to see the development of what would become Frankie Cosmos and that’s part of it. The page is still called ingridsuperstar, but it’s deeper than that. All the little jokes in the descriptions and the funny titles and weird collage artwork— it’s all part of this world. I haven’t ever seen Frankie Cosmos live, but I can still feel that world. I always could. I didn’t have to follow her on twitter or instagram or tumblr or whatever to feel that infinite world. That to me is a part of what internet age DIY could, and should, be.
I think that’s where my insistence that the internet is such a real place and can be such a special place sort of comes from. From an ideological political standpoint there’s some criticism to be made of independent music trying to mimic major label industry, but it’s also just boring.
I know not everybody wants to see the sausage get made, so to speak, but I think it’s a really beautiful thing to let people into process as a model of humanizing your art. I think it can potentially give your work life that doesn’t rely on months of fabricated hype for three days of press coverage. You get to have these really nice experiences of something like listening to Close It Quietly and realizing one of the songs on there was a track from a Bandcamp release from five years earlier.
I think it’s a really interesting thing to be deeply influenced by a band that was at one point this, like, huge trend band because I talk about this incredibly popular band as a DIY thing and as something special. I think, at the end of the day, the success is what ruined this little world. Or at least broke it for a little while because it’s what the journalists took and made into this proof that DIY is kitschy lo-fi indie music and that taints it all.
DIY isn’t special because it’s a talking point for a profile on a successful artist. It’s special because it creates a world for itself that. Trying to work outside a system that you have no reason to stick to other than this illusion of professional norm. I think the conversation around success, or I guess more generally the conversation around things only mattering once they get to a certain level, misses the point of what makes that the thing cool and special.
Sometimes the coolest thing is just having a place the lyrics are always written out.
Miranda Reinert is a zine maker and law student based in Philadelphia. Follow me on Twitter for more on music and other things like when I get to be on the Endless Scroll Podcast: @mirandareinert. I also just opened up a paid tier of this newsletter which for $5 a month (or $40 a year! what a deal!) you’ll get free zines as I make them and one upon sign up! Wow! But as always, thanks for reading!