I hate the Internet.
Don't get me wrong, I love the Internet. But also, I hate the Internet.
Or rather, I hate the way it has accelerated our thirst for something to get riled up about, for a scapegoat, for justice.
I hate the way the Internet — social media, specifically — has given rise to a culture of self-styled online vigilantes who rush to judgment on whatever issue happens to be cluttering their Facebook or Twitter feed at a given time, often without all the facts.
And when that rush happens within our local music scene, which Feedback is dedicated to covering, well ... I just have to say something.
These days, there's a common form of protest that goes something like this:
1. See someone complain about some injustice, real or perceived. (Or something even dumber than that, like a company's new logo or whatever.)
2. Immediately share said complaint on your own social media outlet of choice, adding your own secondhand opinion.
3. If you're really angry, scurry over to the offending party's Facebook or Twitter and TYPE-SHOUT AT THEM!
4. Wash your hands of any actual responsibility. Rinse. Repeat.
Please don't misunderstand: I appreciate the power that social media puts into the hands of people. Heck, I appreciate anything that puts power into the hands of people.
When that power is used correctly.
But when that power is pointed in the wrong direction, with the quick-share nature of social media acting as fuel for the fire, it's a real bummer to watch from the outside, and no doubt terrifying and/or maddening for those standing in its path.
This week's example was a relatively mild one, but it hit close to home.
On Monday, the popular local music festival Bend Roots Revival announced it was canceling this year's event (set for Sept. 27-30), citing a land-use dispute between its venue, the Century Center, and nearby bullet manufacturer Nosler.
The festival's statement didn't blame Nosler for the cancellation, but that didn't stop a wave of anti-Nosler sentiment from building on Facebook. Some folks were respectable, asking Nosler for an explanation. Others were ... not.
What failed to get around was that it wasn't Nosler that canceled the event. In fact, Nosler was surprised when it started hearing from angry Roots supporters, and it released a statement expressing regret that the festival had been canceled by its organizers, who did so after Dave Hill at the Century Center decided he couldn't risk having a four-day concert and party at his venue just before going to the city of Bend for some land-use hearings.
Which, frankly, is understandable on Hill's part. Though the timing of these decisions is terrible, to say the least.
And, for the record, if you've driven the access route between the Century Center and Columbia Street — the one that runs through Nosler's property and is at the center of all this — you understand the bullet company's concern, too.
To their credit, some of the folks who yelled at Nosler gave them a pat on the back after the company's supportive statement. And many went and signed an online petition asking the city to approve the Century Center's application to host events, including Roots. There were 308 signatures as of press time.
Now, am I absolving any entity of blame in this mess? No. But I don't know all the facts. I know what I know. And that's all.
I can tell you this for sure: If you're a supporter of Bend Roots Revival, expressing that support to the festival's organizers, Century Center, Nosler and the city of Bend are all positive, productive things you can do today.
I don't believe the 2012 Revival is completely dead yet, but I think it's close. (The Roots team vows to be back in 2013 regardless.)
In the meantime, you can call me old-fashioned or say that I'm toeing my industry's line, but I liked it when a trained journalist striving for impartiality gathered facts from all sides of an issue and presented them so that the general public could make its own decisions.
It wasn't a perfect system, but it was better than watching an ill-informed digital mob take down a target — any target — with keyboards and smartphones instead of torches and pitchforks.