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Trent Reznor on Why Facebook "Sucks" (drownedinsound.com)
69 points by phreeza on Oct 12, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 36 comments

if as many people really listened to Joy Division as list them on their Facebook page, Joy Division would be bigger than U2

This just drives me nuts.

First, there isn't an epidemic of people on Facebook claiming to like Joy Division; ~340k people "Like" Joy Division, compared to ~3.6MM for Avenged Sevenfold.

Second, it's an extension of a high school attitude that enjoyment of music is a kind of badge that needs to be earned; not only does it very much matter to Reznor that you like Joy Division and not, say, Collective Soul, but also he's pretty sure you don't really like them as much as you say you do.

Joy Division was a pretty great band. But compared to the landmarks of western culture, they're not particularly Important. You like them if you like them. They aren't a club and you don't need to pledge to them. Reznor has plenty of good reasons to hate social networking services (he has cultivated a particularly drama-heavy collection of fans online), but they are Reznor-specific, not endemic to the whole Internet.

> Second, it's an extension of a high school attitude that enjoyment of music is a kind of badge that needs to be earned; not only does it very much matter to Reznor that you like Joy Division and not, say, Collective Soul, but also he's pretty sure you don't really like them as much as you say you do.

I agree with both you and Reznor's point, actually.

Not sure exactly what I have as the music on my Facebook page (FB blocked in Vietnam, and I can't be bothered setting up a proxy to check) - but if I remember correctly, I filled out my Facebook music tastes in a way that says, "I'd like to go places with this kind of music playing in them if we go out."

Since I travel a lot and connect with people when traveling, lots of people don't know my tastes - so I list music for places I'd want to go to. For instance, I've got Bebel Gilberto listed in my profile - she makes really nice bassanova music, which is softly sung Brazilian Portugese with light music with lots of strings behind it.

I used to listen to bassanova quite a bit. Nowadays, not as much, but I'd be happy hanging out anywhere it's playing. Likewise, I've got some of my favorite electronic artists listed, and some of my favorites from opera and classical.

I actually like Nine Inch Nails, I've got The Fragile on my iPod, but if I remember correctly, I didn't list it down in my music likes. Oh, it's good music, don't get me wrong - I'm just not at the point in my life where I'd want to go hang out at a rock/metal/industrial club.

So you're both kind of right. Reznor says people put it down for signalling value, which is true - I've got my music down partially to signal what parties and bars and clubs I'd particularly prefer to be invited to. You're saying that's kind of a pretentious attitude on Reznor's part - I agree with that too. I think you're both right.

Re. blocked in Vietnam: only the DNS request is blocked, so if you switch to OpenDNS you should get access back.

"(he has cultivated a particularly drama-heavy collection of fans online), but they are Reznor-specific, not endemic to the whole Internet."

Are you looking at the same internet as I am?

(Reznor's drama heavy fans are Reznor-specific, but drama heavyness in general _is_ the internet, if you look at it the right way...)

I don't think it's about 'earning' enjoyment of music, I think it's about cultural signaling: when you fill out a Facebook profile, you're making a public statement about who you are. ~340k people _is_ pretty much an 'epidemic,' if you consider the actual audience of punk back in the '70s.

By putting "I like Joy Division" on your profile, you're making a statement that you're not a follower, you won't stand for authority, etc, etc.

At least, that's what people like to think.

340 thousand people is not that surprising of a following for a band that was notable in the 70's, one that pioneered a popular genre -- it's been nearly 30 years, and you can enjoy a band's music without subscribing to the band's "movement".

I think it's ridiculous to try to make such general and vague pronouncements as "Most Joy Division fans on Facebook must be faking it" with nothing to support or ground your statistic in.

> you can enjoy a band's music without subscribing to the band's "movement".

You've never listened to proto-punk, have you? ;)

Anyway, I make no judgement about Reznor being right or wrong. I think you're totally right, it's not surprising that 40 years later, a notable band's audience is large.

My Mother-in-law likes Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Mark Bolan. She doesn't speak any English and comes from a culture where proto-punk never made any impact.

I think the parent commenter has a valid point.

I was attempting a light joke about how horrible it sounds. I'm much more of an 80s hardcore kind of guy anyway...

I figured numbers don't lie. Instead of picking bands that I thought represent me to put into Facebook ... I just linked my last.fm profile. What I actually listen to is tallied instead of what I'd prefer you to think I listen to.

EDIT: Hah! Turns out Facebook no longer allows this. I just checked my FB profile and it does not list my last.fm profile. It also does not allow me to add it back.

I think the point here on Joy Division has less to do with the actual statistics of how many people list Joy Division as a band they like, and more to do with how much relevance music has in the younger half of generation Y as a status icon of "who I listen to". Sort of how like, when I was growing up not many 12 year olds could hit a jump shot from the three point line as often as one of the neighborhood boys (who we'll call Anthony) could, but your status as popular or not in the neighborhood completely depended on your ability to hit a jumper.

It's not a thing of statistics as much as it is a remark about the culture of being "relevant".

Just wanted to share an opinion on that tangent.

Whether you spoke to them on person or talked on the phone, when you interact with them it would be a real person and not some avatar of themselves.

This is simply nostalgia. Some people have always been posers, phonies, narcs, fakers, wanna-bes, tools, charlatans, jive turkeys, bullshitters, etc. I don't think we can blame this one on Facebook.

Yes, but, doesn't Facebook encourage this sort of thing more than in the past? It takes a lot less of ... something to put that you are a certain way on Facebook than it does to claim it face to face to another person. People are a lot less likely to call you on something you put on Facebook than something you claim to their face.

Why do you say that? I'm not convinced. I've met plenty of people who have claimed various liked and disliked in the offline world that were... exaggerated. Especially in the dating world, or the job interview world.

Facebook obviously didn't created those behaviors, as it didn't created voyeurism. But they cannot be exculpated from being a cause of voyeurism spreading out the way it is.

I mean sure, their success is huge, and lots of people would have a hard time living without FB. But if prostitution or heroine was legal, it also would have lots of success and (more)users. But would we be right to say it's a good thing ?

And yes, voyeurism is not heroine, but it's certainly not a good thing either.

Agreed. And people have been 'reinventing' themselves since Downtown and Madonna, if anything FB is just a new way to do an old thing.

A bit off subject -- I knew Reznor was a Joy Division devotee but I didn't realize until just now that his Halo numbers are patterned after the Factory Records numbers that Joy Division releases were a part of. Links:



Factory elevated the then-usual record company catalog into a numbering system that clearly established authenticity and intentionality. Also, as it happens, it naturally increases fan collecting interest.

The Factory Records numbers included not just records but all manner of designed items such as concerts and their posters, videos, promotional items and some even more interesting examples.

Reznor limits them to recordings, which does allow the realistic completion of a collection and there are indeed many "Every Halo" fans who have made Nine Inch Nails' old singles unusually collectible.

Apart from the collectibility, it's a simple way of creating a story by putting things in a timeline as well as establishing what's really in the canon and what's peripheral.

I love the Factory numbers!

FAC 501: Tony Wilson, his funeral, & his coffin

This reads like it was very badly transcribed from audio. Or not transcribed at all-- it's filled with errors, missing words, and run-on sentences. Not a great reflection on the site or Reznor. If I were him, I'd demand they fix it.

I think I understand what he's trying to say, but perhaps he could've picked a better example than Joy Division and U2.

The Joy Division pages on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoyDivisionOfficial?ref=ts [55k fans]

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joy-Division/108018775886004?r... [260k fans]

The U2 page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/u2 [5M fans]

I'm surprised we don't hear more from Trent Reznor. As I can tell through his music (pick up the TSN soundtrack today released in full) - the man is a genius. But to not hear more from him in today's internet world like we do Scott Adams or other intelligencia who have done spinoff work seems like a waste of a mind that I intently want to hear from.

Speaking as a fanboy: Reznor goes in reclusive phases. He'll be all over the net doing interviews and bitching on twitter one month then completely absent for 6. Just sorta what he does.

I'm guessing he's a bit busy. He's always been. If you want to hear about him, you should head for the NiN forums and such.

I guess it is a good thing - that way he can focus on his music and his art instead of trying to shine a little light into the abysmal depth of the internet or its social networks.

I think you guys are missing the forest through the trees, maybe Joy Division was a bad example but what Reznor is pointing our is how much of a performance Facebook is, every profile is what/how you want to be perceived now so much how you actually are. It's an idealization. How many of your friends Facebook profiles represent someone significantly different than the person you actually know? A lot.

Can't you say the same thing about Twitter? Or your Linkedln? I mean for heaven's sake it's the reality of the internet and life and general. This is not a substitute, it's an addendum. Facebook connects us. Yes it's hyperreal. Yes it's diluted.

But it's never going to be the perfect image of ourselves, just as how we project ourselves to two people becomes different than when we project ourselves to one. Just as how we project ourselves to three people becomes different from how we project ourselves to two. And scale up to your 400+ friends on the 'book.

>every profile is what/how you want to be perceived now so much how you actually are.

So is every social interaction. We're all obsessed with the matter of authenticity, but every personality is extensively contrived in every social environment. The main difference between online and personal signaling is that our online performances are more scripted and our live performances are more impromptu.

Human beings represent themselves differently in different situations; this is not something that started with the internet.

Look at yourself, I bet the version of you that you present to your parents is different to the one you present to your friends, which is different to the one you present to your partner, which is different to the one you present at work, etc.

I doubt most people list cool bands just because they are cool and they don't really listen to them.

I think it's much more common for people to avoid listing uncool bands that they do listen to. Guilty pleasures, if you will.

every profile is what/how you want to be perceived now so much how you actually are

But what can they do about it? It's not like they have access to your youtube play logs or winamp stats or anything like more like that from which to derive "you".

> or winamp stats or anything like

IIRC, there's a last.fm app for syncing your Facebook music section every week to your actual top artists for that week.

Facebook should tap into those kind of sources then.

I don't understand why people are interested or care about the opinion of some guy who hasn't even managed to be relevant in his own domain. Just because he made the soundtrack to a sub-par film about Facebook?

He's basically acting like a 45 year old Holden Caulfield. I think he just wishes he was as good as Joy Division.

I hope you're joking, but in case you're not: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trent_Reznor

Hmm... I wouldn't call an artist that inspired Johnny Cash to cover him, irrelevant.

OTOH, Johnny Cash covered a lot of stuff. He had 6 cover albums in the "American" series at the end of his career..

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