Written by The Mac Twins


This digital life: upsets me

DJs and presenters The Mac Twins have forged their career in the digital world. Alana thinks that’s smashing; Lisa, not so much. Yesterday, Alana Macfarlane shared her joy, but today, Lisa Macfarlane explains why it bothers her.

hand holding an 'Esc' keyMe and Alana/Lisa and I will bicker about anything, so when we started talking about privacy and forging careers on this here internet (and how digitisation means we have to swerve our career in different directions every few months), Alana sang its praises and Lisa had concerns for our safety and data.

Lisa says:

We’ve created a world where online figures and numbers are the primary measure of success; a world where the cast of Geordie Shore have more Twitter followers than Madonna. Is this really where we should be placing our goals? Matt Lucas did a fantastic tweet last year that read: “Next time you moan about not having enough followers, remember I have 3 BAFTAS and Harry Styles’ sister has 3 times as many followers as me.” I think that pretty much sums it up.

In our industry, having our entire careers mapped out online can not only stunt personal growth and bypass talents that aren’t ‘online business savvy’, but more importantly it leaves us exceptionally vulnerable.

We used to post our whereabouts freely on the Twittersphere and Father Mac would always say, “OI HENS, STOP PUTTING ONLINE THAT YOU’RE GOING OAN YER HOALIBAGS [translation: holidays]; cab firms, PR companies and all sorts have your address and now they all know yer oot!” My flat’s been burgled three times and I’d like to hope it was opportunists, but I can’t help but wonder… (As an aside, if said burglar happens to see this, can I have my lovely Grandad’s watch back please? You can keep the rest.)

“We as a society have this strange entitlement to people in the spotlight: that if they’ve ‘chosen this industry’, they therefore should suffer the ‘consequences’ of the media glare.”

They’re just the elements we have control over: what about people creating fake profiles of celebrities and arranging to meet up with fans – where does our responsibility lie? All we can do is report them, but do we have to have a wider role? More must be done to alleviate the pressure on people with a massive online following; to help them protect themselves AND the people that follow them.

The Jennifer Lawrence photo-hacking scandal showed that images can travel across the globe at lightning speed, and I don’t think any of us can imagine how vulnerable and exposed that makes you feel, knowing your body is just online public fodder. We as a society have this strange entitlement to people in the spotlight: that if they’ve ‘chosen this industry’, they therefore should suffer the ‘consequences’ of the media glare.

It’s a silent complicity when people are hacked: we view and therefore partake in the shaming of them. Where’s the line on how much we court the online world when we want to promote something, and how much protection is there for people in the entertainment industry when they just want to lead their lives?

Digitisation in our profession – well, the DJ world – is expanding by the second and now includes personal appearances from celebrities who literally just meander into the club and press play on a pre-mixed hour-long set and dance and take pictures. But because they have more of an online following, club promoters book them over actual DJs like us, because they pull in more of a crowd. The sore irony is that we slogged it out doing five-hour sets and learning the technical skills to be good DJs, and if we went on a reality show and had a bigger online profile, we’d be earning roughly six times what we do now – without even having to know how to use the decks.

The same goes for presenting. Most companies are now interested in marketing over content, meaning there’s little to no room to become a good presenter before learning how to promote yourself. Unfortunately because information is spread so fast and TV platforms are becoming fewer and fewer due to everything going online, someone with a massive social media profile gets all the opportunities because they bring with them a readymade audience.

“One wrong move, one misinterpreted quote, one bad gig, one awful picture is there for all to see and generally jumps right to the top of Google, bypassing all the excellent achievements and success.”

With all of this comes an expectation that we must be part of that world in order to work in the industry we do. Certain artists, such as Paolo Nutini and Ben Howard, don’t want to engage in the online world and all its trolling and fakery – so labels run accounts for them. Be it through peer pressure or otherwise, the online world is now part and parcel of the occupation we’ve chosen and we must all be involved one way or another.

The other danger is we leave a digital trace, so that everything we do in our career is mapped out. One wrong move, one misinterpreted quote, one bad gig, one awful picture is there for all to see and generally jumps right to the top of Google, bypassing all the excellent achievements and success. It’s harder to grow if all the bad things are placed in front of you all the time. Aside from politics, this doesn’t happen in any other job.

And is it different for us as women? Yes. Images of us people see online bring out a certain expectation of our appearance: “Why are you not wearing a dress or heels?” “Why don’t you look like that poster?” crop up regularly. If there’s a male DJ who’s ever been questioned on his choice of shirts, please come forward and quash my theory. It’s also a slippery tightrope when you create an online persona: young women want to emulate it and, sometimes, it’s not attainable. Instagram filters don’t just improve the image, they improve the perception of your life. We have to be careful about how glossy and glamorous that portrayal is and – short of pictures of us on the lavvy – find a good balance.

Despite all this, I am happy online. I’ve built a lot of my career in this little virtual village. In the real world it’s possible to put extra locks on my doors and join Neighbourhood Watch (still have not received my sticker, fuming!) after I was burgled, so all I ask for is some tighter windows and some nice virtual community policemen in my online world. Then I’ll be able to drive my career out the driveway and go safely on my journey.

Read Alana’s side of the argument.

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Written by The Mac Twins

Mother Mac: "They shared a womb, but that’s all they've bloody shared since. I don't know why they work together and I don't know why they've not got proper jobs. I despair.”