Clearing the decks…

It feels like there’s a real sense of angst in the social media which surrounds the beer industry right now. And my mindset is to view it as a good thing long term if it gets points raised now for a better future. So in the spirit of a good pre-new year sort out, I’ve a few things that have been bugging me for a while now. Take this post as me clearing the decks so that as of tomorrow I can go back to being positive again!

A recent phrase in a Mark Johnson blog post, rekindled an irritation which I’d been meaning to form into a blog post for some time. He made reference to the Twitter version of yourself, which I took to refer to the false pretence with which many folk present themselves to the social media world.

Now that sounds malicious and intentional but actually, many folk don’t even realise that they’re doing it.  Imagine if you will, a relatively normal day.  You wake late, you dash downstairs for coffee/breakfast but find there’s no milk. You run for the bus but miss it so have to wait in the cold for the next one.  You get to work and those emails that you never got round to sending, come home to roost with a vengeance.  Your lunch is an underwhelming cheese sandwich and you already know you’re going home to the same pasta bake that you had last night, which is now, well lets call it ‘aged’ 24 hours. You sit down to watch nothing of any interest on the telly.  It’s almost asif your appetite for something interesting has waned and all you want to do its go back to bed, only  you cant sleep…

You glance out the window and notice your neighbour, who you’ve never really spoken to, has a shiny new car. Some folk get all the luck. Would be lovely to have a nice new shiny car to drive to work in. Would be lovely to have such a perfect life that everyday is easy and driving a nice new car is the cherry on that particular cake. No money worries there. No disappointing meals being eaten there. I bet every meal is a banquet of artisan delicacies. I bet he has a healthy social calendar.

But one day you happen upon an old school friend, you get talking and through telling him where you live you discover that he knows your neighbour well. You find out that your neighbour had suffered from a significant head injury from his military days.   He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and enduring nightmares.  When he first left service he was unable to conform to the normality of day to day life and he lost the love of his life through his anger/anguish.  Every day is now a battle for him to keep his head up and a smile on his face, but he’s doing it. He’s getting help, he’s fighting back.  But it turns out your perception of his life, based entirely on his new car, was a million miles away from the reality.

That’s social media to a tee. You get a very small glimpse of a person’s life, but human instinct is to judge what you can’t see by what you can.

Flip that on its head and many people will be very choosey about what glimpses of their lives that they will share with those on social media. Only presenting what they see as the best parts of themselves. More confusing still, some folk will portray a whole false persona by hinting at a different reality through images and the things that they say.

Going back to Mark’s post, I felt that in response to the #Hopinions question of what to drink when there is nothing ‘craft’ available, it’s very easy to be flippant and respond with what you think will impress folk. Ugh, we men, we drink beer, ugh ugh ugh. So opt for a response along the lines of ‘I won’t touch anything other than that finest gold leaf hops’. Easily said, but the next time that scenario presents itself, I’d love to know how many of those people carry through with that. Not a lot I suspect.

And this false façade is something which sits very uneasy with me. Just when you feel comfortable with those you interact with, something comes along which undermines it.

I’m aware of numerous areas where profit motive can creep into what we do. What I do is simple. I’ve said all along, I’m passionate about the North East and I’m passionate about our beer scene. My motivation is to raise the profile of the North East beer scene and have fun along the way. This is very much a labour of love.

Recently a lot of the non-beery podcasts I listen to include adverts to ‘help fund them’, but I prefer to keep it simple. But what do we know about who’s funding what? How much of the things which influence you are targeted? I’ll be honest I’m aware of some things which are backed by different entities and conglomerates, but there seems to have been a fair few recently which have appeared out of the woodwork. I take the ownership of ratebeer as a prime example.

And on the face of it, the ownership shouldn’t matter if you like the product, but I can’t help being cautious of the motive of the ownership, and the direction they will try and sway the market.

I guess I feel uneasy about newbies eyeing up the modern beer scene as a cash cow. I think that brings with it greed and drives prices up as more hands grasp for a share. And long term, the modern beer scene will become established and perhaps the novelty will reduce its cache. The fashionable will no longer include it in their focus and then what? If those chasing the payouts up and leave the market, what’s left? I’m not saying that no good will come from people investing in the sector, I guess I’m just abit cautious of what I’m seeing.

Maybe I’m just paranoid, or maybe I’m missing something, but I worry that our market is becoming increasingly a brand driven market, much like every other fashion built sector. I guess I’m just keen to maintain that there is something of substance behind those brands and not simply a means to an end of making someone rich.

Finally, apologies if this has degenerated into a rambling rant, but it was important for me to get this off my chest before Christmas. My next post will be far more positive, I promise!  I’ve got a little idea that could go a long way, but more of that in my next post.

Now, where’s those mince pies…

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