No, this post isn’t about my looming Twitter addiction. It’s about what you can learn from using social networks. One of the people I decided to follow when I started on Twitter recently was John Perry Barlow ( @JohnPerryBarlow)
I mostly know of Barlow through his songwriting work for the Grateful Dead. He was a frequent collaborator with Bob Weir and helped write such classics as Cassidy, Lost Sailor, Saint of Circumstance, Hell in a Bucket, Music Never Stopped and I Need a Miracle. All great, great songs. I also knew that he was a very close friend of John F. Kennedy Jr. What I didn’t know was that he was also a lifelong friend of LSD advocate Timothy Leary and a founding members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In short, a fascinating character and someone I was definitely interested in following. Well, I haven’t been disappointed. They say brevity is the soul of wit and Twitter’s 140 character limit puts it to the test. Barlow, well, he’s made for Twitter.
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About a week ago comes this,
I’m in rehab. Folks say, You’ll admit that? Hell, why not? I was a famous drunk. I won’t mind being a famous alcoholic.
Damn. How about that. He throws it right out there and shares it with his social network. I don’t know why but this really struck me, the openness, the sharing. It was so social when most would try to keep it so private.
The way I see it… If an economy as fucked up as this one can be in recovery, why not me?
I’m sitting between Seattle & Tacoma with my dear pal Creighton King, surrounded by my fellow inmates in our green scrubs.
Rehab is for quitters.
I am heartened by the support of my friends & Twitterers. I went public about this ’cause I will need that support actively.
This is not in keeping with AA doctrine, but I’ve never fully embraced that religion. I associate anonymity with shame.
What came next was a thunderbolt, at least for me.
“One of these days I’m gonna pull myself together, soon as finish tearing myself apart.”
I wrote that line for Brent Mydland, dead 19 years today. A sweet, doomed genius he was, who could only speak in music.
Has it been 19 years since Brent Mydland died? Most of you are scratching your heads. He was an incredibly talented singer and keyboard player who played with the Grateful Dead from 1979 to 1990. I remember it like it was yesterday, exactly where I was and who I was with when I heard the news.
Barlow’s reminder of his death got me thinking about Mydland’s daughters, who were close to my kids ages (6, 5) at the time of his death in 1990. Nineteen years. I wondered how they were doing. Were they married? Have kids of their own? Think of how much he missed in nineteen years. Addiction is like cancer in that most everybody knows somebody who has struggled with it. Some more than others. I’ve known more than one, believe me. What a destructive force addiction is. It is like a hurricane that blows through lives and destroys everything in its path. If you’ve ever watched Intervention on A&E, you know.
Mydland got plucked from relative obscurity to join one of the most popular and profitable bands in the world. He was married with two beautiful little girls. What would drive a man in his position to shoot a speedball? Addiction.
Inevitably I started thinking about my life, my health, my priorities and my kids. I don’t want to miss a thing.
And what got me thinking all these deep thoughts? A guy Tweeting from rehab. Life lessons in 140 characters or less.