On Social Media and the Fan’s Grief

I don’t typically go in for online events like this, where everyone gets together and plays a song or a video for a common cause. But this one was different. This one was a little more personal.

I’ll be writing more about James Horner in the very near future. There’s a lot to say about what he meant to film music, and therefore to me. For now, it should go without saying – but this time I really have to say it anyway – that his death has been a huge blow to so many. Most of all his family and friends, of course, but then there’s the extended family. There’s everyone who ever picked up one of his soundtracks. There’s everyone who didn’t stop at just one.

And there’s me.

The news of Horner’s passing broke a week ago, and hit me much harder than I imagined it could. I spent most of the next day listening to his music, posting favorite cues and themes on Facebook, and retweeting memories and tributes on Twitter. And it struck me how much the artist/fan relationship has been changed, reshaped, by social media in the last few years.

When Jerry Goldsmith died in 2004, I was just as devastated then as now. But social media wasn’t such a thing then. I didn’t have a Facebook where I could spam everyone’s newsfeed with music (and I didn’t have a YouTube where I could find it). I didn’t have a Twitter where I could share favorite themes and memories. I didn’t have an online event I could RSVP for to join others in remembering. And I didn’t have friends who appreciated what all of this means to me (one person – a dear friend I’d met on MySpace – even called to offer condolences for Horner).

It’s a side of the Internet, of social media, you don’t hear so much about. The ugliness of online life is all over the news (and I’ll not rehash any of that here. Life’s just too short to waste on that sort of thing). But this is different. This is people using the tools of the Internet in a better way. To mourn, to celebrate, to share and remember. To remind each other that even now, we’re not alone.

You really have to be grateful for that. And I am.

So, to everyone who shared any part of the day with me, thank you.

Until next time…

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