Has anyone ever been on a rooftop bar and not posted about it on Facebook?

Standing on the rooftops
Everybody scream your heart out.

I think we’ve finally reached the point where Facebook check-ins have lost their allure.

People still do it all of the time, of course, but now tend to do it when they are at a place that is actually interesting. When check-ins became popular about four or five years ago, people were essentially checking in everywhere.

Any bar, store or restaurant we frequented was documented on Facebook. And I’m guilty of it, too. It was cool to be able to record your whereabouts at any given time, and simultaneously be able to publicize who you were with. The other part of it is to boast about your social life. In essence, by checking in at a bar with a bunch of friends, it’s like telling the Facebook world, “Yeah peeps, I go out on Friday nights and I have a bunch of friends, check it!”

Of course, it might not be so much that checking in has lost its luster than it is that people just lose their motivation to do it as they age. When you’re 26, it’s not as becoming to brag about being drunk on a Friday night than when you were 21.

So now people check-in mostly from interesting places. Sporting events, concerts, foreign cities are all included on that list. And bar-based check-ins have slowly faded.

But not all of them.

Again, being at bar is a pretty generic and unremarkable thing, so the majority of the time it isn’t worth a check-in. But there are some unique types of bars that people like to flaunt when they attend. Breweries are one. Beer gardens maybe.

And the most popular bar for checking in? Rooftop bars.

If somebody you know is at a rooftop bar, you absolutely can expect at least one check-in, one photo of the view from the rooftop, and another photo of the person with their friends on the rooftop, so as to confirm that they are there.

And I’m not trying to be too judgmental, because rooftop bars are pretty cool places. Especially in New York City where you gain a perspective of all the high-rise buildings that you wouldn’t see anywhere else.

They’re also pretty exclusive, too. I’ve only been on a legit rooftop bar — as in one at a fancy hotel — once in my life, and it was only because I was with a group of attractive girls at the time. A guy like me, who is not famous and doesn’t usually dress to impress, is going to have a hard time getting into such places unless he has some decent looking arm candy with him. But the one time I did go, it was pretty ballin’.

So because of all those factors —  the view, the mystique, the exclusivity — I would bet money that everyone who has ever been to one of these places in the Facebook era has posted about it 100 percent of the time.

It’s almost as if you would think it’s mandatory. Like when the bouncers check your I.D., they also check your phone and refuse to let you in unless you show them that you checked in on Facebook. The check-in almost always comes with an obnoxious and ostentatious message along the lines of “Normal Friday night … Just chilling on a rooftop in NYC. #CityLiving #ILoveNewYork.”

It’s just not enough for people to stand near the edge of a tall building, absorb the magnificent view and internally acknowledge it in all of its awe. Instead, they must sabotage the moment by using their phones, essentially staring at a small screen instead of the beautiful landscape directly in front of them.

Again, a huge motivation for check-ins is to brag about where you are. So if people have the opportunity to brag about being on a rooftop bar in the most densely populated city in the world, then they are not going to pass up that opportunity. And the rest of us, as Facebook bystanders, simply have to live with it. Or utilize the “Hide” option in which we are allotted.

Which bears a thought — Facebook allows you to hide or block people, but it doesn’t allow you to block certain types of posts, regardless of who wrote it. Zuckerberg, get on that.

Anyway, maybe there has been one person in the world who went to New York City, got into a rooftop bar, looked at the view, shrugged, and kept their phone stowed away in their pocket during the entirety of their visit. But I have yet to meet that person, and until I do, I will safely assume that rooftop bar visits and Facebook check-ins go hand-in-hand like selfies and Sundays.

There’s no better way to describe the feeling of standing thousands of feet in the air then the way the Lostprophets do in their 2006 single, “Rooftops” (whose lyrics I also started this post with):

Standing on the rooftops
(Wait until the bombs drop)
This is all we got now
(Scream until your heart stops)
Never gonna regret
(Watching every sunset)
We’ll listen to your heartbeat
(All the love that we found)

Notice that nowhere in the song does it say, “Checking in on Facebook.”

The Lostprophets get it.

I’m not ashamed to admit it … the Backstreet Boys still got it.

The past couple of years have seen the reemergence of the “boy band.”

While some boy bands have made names for themselves in the past decade or so, such as Hanson or the Jonas Brothers, not for quite some time has such a group become big enough to be called one of the biggest acts in the world. Well, that all changed with the popularity of One Direction, a British-Irish quintet, all of whom are under 21 years old.

There’s also The Wanted, another English-Irish group who have had pretty substantial success.

These groups are known as boy bands because, well, for the obvious reason that all members are of the male gender. What distinguishes them from being simply known as a “band,” is that boy bands tend to be more pop-oriented, sing exclusively romantically driven songs, don’t play any instruments, and may or may not dance.

But that’s not to say they lack talent. What makes a boy band unique is their ability to harmonize. Five people singing together in a pitch that accommodates each other’s voice perfectly is an extremely difficult thing to do. And that’s why you don’t see many groups of this genre gain international popularity. So One Direction does deserve a lot of credit in that regard.

However, people forget, that for there to be a reemergence of boy bands, there had to be an emergence to begin with.

The Backstreet Boys say hi.

BsB hit their peak in the late 90s, which has come to be known as the golden age of boy bands. At that same time, groups like NSync and 98 Degrees also experienced great success. Of course, one can argue that these three groups were all pioneered by The New Kids on the Block.

But of the four, Backstreet Boys are the only ones who’ve stuck around.

The main problem with boy bands is that they really have one shtick. The only thing that can evolve is maybe their lyrics, but otherwise, their style of singing does not really change. At all. Their fans, on the other hand — who grew up with them, and adored them with all of their heart — will change.

Being a 22-, 23- or 24-year-old girl and drooling over a group of five guys is a lot less socially acceptable than doing it when you’re 14, 15, and 16, and thus, the boy bands lose their buzz. And the 14-, 15- and 16-year-old girls now are growing up with much different types of music.

And thus, the boy bands fade.

In 2000, the Backstreet Boys released Black & Blue, which went platinum in America 8 times. Their next 3 albums, released over the course of 2005 to 2009, went platinum once — combined. A little bit of a drop in sales there.

I think it was kind of a weird phase for the band. NSync and 98 Degrees had already disbanded, and the Backstreet Boys were kind of hanging in that Purgatory phase, where they didn’t really have a fan base anymore. Boy bands were out of style, the members were all in their 30s now, and the young girls they once so greatly appealed to now no longer knew if it was cool to still like them.

It wasn’t until late 2010 when the group reentered international consciousness, when they performed with the aforementioned New Kids on the Block (forming the supergroup “NKOTBSB”) during the American Music Awards. With this performance, they essentially reminded people that they still exist.

But the luster of the performance didn’t last too long. It was a nice nostalgic moment, but it came and went.

And now, three years later, these guys still exist. But it’s different. We now live in a world where boy bands are back. So unlike 2010, where they didn’t have a place in music … now they do.

They put out a new album, In a World Like This, and continue to do what they’ve always done. Harmonize, and sing about love. They sang a mashup of their new single and their biggest hit to date, “I Want it That Way,” Wednesday night on America’s Got Talent, and I must say, I thought they delivered a hell of a performance.

It no longer felt like a befuddled group of young 30-year-olds searching for their place in life. Amazingly, two of the band members will be in their 40s by the end of the year, and, I don’t know, maybe it’s experience, maybe it’s confidence, or maybe it’s an inner satisfaction that this type of music is once again accepted by the masses — whatever it was, they gave a very current, pleasant performance.

And the people they once appealed to so greatly as teenagers are now in their late 20s and early 30s. With jobs and families. At that age, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about anymore. If you want to listen to the Backstreet Boys, then who gives a shit? In your late teens and early 20s, you cared about that type of thing, but not so much anymore.

Humorously, Wikipedia now lists the Backstreet Boys as an “American vocal harmony group.” Come on, Wikipedia, you’re not fooling anybody.

But anyway, you hear a band like One Direction on the radio, and you realize that these kids could learn a thing or two from a group like the Backstreet Boys. And ironically, it’s because of these five Brits that the Backstreet Boys are relevant again.

Will they ever reclaim the popularity they amassed in their heyday? Of course not. But can they fill a void in today’s music industry, delivering classy, romantic-bordering-on-naive pop ballads? You betcha. I think a little romantic-bordering-on-naive is exactly what this world needs, you ask me.

So, in conclusion … wait for it…


Backstreet’s back, alright!

Blackouts were less big of a deal before smart phones

Exactly 10 years ago today, the lights went out in the northeast. Just before 4:10 p.m. EST on August 4, 2003, a software bug in Ohio caused 55 million people, ranging from southern New Jersey to Canada, to lose power for about two days.

At the time, it was the second most widespread blackout in history.

Most people probably remember exactly where they were when this happened. I was 16 at the time, and I recall swimming in my friend’s pool, when his mom came outside and said that the power went out. Of course, whenever that it happens, you assume it’s a local problem. It wasn’t until a little later when we learned that millions of people had been affected.

I went home shortly after, and spent the rest of the day listening to the news on a battery-powered radio, reading some books, and hanging out with my mom and dad. And when it got dark, for lack of better things to do, I went to sleep.

This was years before smart phones, iPads and Facebook. I didn’t log onto social media to complain. In fact, I didn’t complain, period. I don’t mean that to say that I handled it better than most people, but, it was my summer vacation from high school at the time, and there really wasn’t much else I needed to be doing.

In fact, I remember being intrigued and even excited by the whole thing. It was obviously a unique experience, so I took it in stride and made the most of it. There were no technologies that I desperately missed. We had a computer, of course, but I had no problem going one day without AOL Instant Messenger.

If anything, the night was blissful and cathartic.

Flash forward 10 years, and many people who live in New York and New Jersey endured an even worse experience in the recent past, when power outages lasted anywhere between seven to 14 days in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Except this was different. Why? Because of smart phones. Now that we’ve lived in the era of the iPhone, the Droid and the Samsung Galaxy, there’s no going back. So when the lights went out at the end of 2012, people did not know what to do with themselves.

They had to sit there, and actually… talk to people. And open a book. Or *gasp* … go outside.

Things that we did as teenagers — with or without electricity — suddenly were alien to us. We couldn’t sit on a couch for minutes at a time and not access our phone to see what the rest of the world was doing. And even worse, there was no outlet to vent our frustration because Facebook was inaccessible. Oh, the horror!

And I’m not judging. I remember myself becoming a little antsy during the days after the storm. I tried to make the most of it, but I felt secluded, isolated from the rest of the world. It wasn’t the same when I was 16, when the muffled audio of a radio, and the silence of the night brought me inner peace. And that saddens me.

To see how reliant our society has become on technology, all we need to experience is a good, old-fashioned blackout. In 10 years, blackouts went from being a fun and zany affair to being as traumatic as spending a week on a deserted island with no food or shelter.

But, who knows. Maybe I am being cynical. Perhaps, someday, we will all be able to channel our 15, 16 and 17-year-old selves and once again enjoy a power outage.

Are people seriously checking in on Facebook from hospitals?

If Facebook has done anything, it’s satiated two of the most common traits that human beings desire  — attention and sympathy.

During any second of the day, we have the ability to garner attention for ourselves now that Facebook exists. It doesn’t matter what we have to say, either. Just by posting anything, anything at all, the Facebook status will show up on hundreds of people’s News Feeds, and be read by a good number of those people.

And just like how It’s impossible to infallibly prove that every good deed is completely selfless, it’s equally as difficult to prove that every single Facebook status, check-in or comment isn’t for attention.

Humans are programmed to relish attention, and to feed off sympathy. So if they experience something that actually warrants both of those things, then, in this day and age, you damn well know they are going to flaunt it.

A very disturbing trend that I have noticed recently that applies to this is people who “check in” on Facebook from hospitals.

Of course, by checking in from any location, the purpose is to let people know not only where you are, but to post some type of witty comment that tells others that what you are doing is probably better than what they are doing.

But a hospital check-in does exactly the opposite. Anything that necessitates a hospital visit to begin with is obviously unfortunate, so there’s nothing to brag about there. But, everybody and their mother knows that if you tell somebody you are in the hospital, they are going to react in a sympathetic way.

When is the last time somebody told you that they spent the night in a hospital, and your response was, “Oh, okay. So what do you want to do this weekend?” And if that was your response, it probably means you are a sociopath, and that you will likely murder another person before your life is over.

The automatic responses to hearing about somebody’s hospital stay are pretty typical:

“What happened?!”

“Are you okay??”

“Feel better!!”

All of them are nurturing and comforting responses, and as Oedipus tells us, are exactly what we’ve craved ever since we were babies.

Facebook gives people the opportunity to not only inform people en masse about a hospital visit, but to actually let people know while it is happening.

My favorite is when people do it ambiguously. They check-in from the hospital, and they’ll say something like, “Well, this sucks…” with a sad face included. Obviously, that’s the most attention-seeking way to go about it. By not saying what the matter is, you’re letting people think the worst, and only heightening any concern they may have for you.

But I just think that this is a heinous, deplorable, bottom-feeding tactic. First of all, if you’re in the hospital, there are plenty of things that should be on your to-do list before picking up your phone and checking in. Things like texting your close friends to inform them everything is okay, or talking to nurses and doctors to learn more about your prognosis, or just, you know, spending time with your visiting family.

And it’s even worse when the reason they’re in the hospital is for a routine thing, like to have their tonsils removed. Meanwhile, people in that very hospital with debilitating illnesses don’t even have the strength to pick up their phone and log onto Facebook.

It’s not terribly different from people who post a photo of their car minutes after they’ve just been in an accident. At the end of the day, it’s all manifesting out of the same two human desires — attention … and sympathy.

But they’re not getting it from me. No siree

Unless they die shortly after they check in. Then I’ll feel pretty bad. Especially after I just said all of this.

There’s something about Macklemore

Being a rapper and, at the same time, trying to be an influential and inspiring figure in today’s world is an extremely difficult task. To figure out why, all you need to do is take one look at guys like Kanye West or Lil’ Wayne. You can vouch for their artistic talents all you like (more so with Kanye), but to say that these guys are legitimate role models for young people is laughable.

And yet, since they are such big names in the rap industry, it creates a stigma that trickles down to others in the genre. Even someone like Eminem, who is looked upon pretty favorably by the masses, endured a very troubled and highly publicized youth.

Although his movie, 8 Mile — a dramatization of his early life — was fairly successful (and even earned him an Oscar), it officially cemented the stereotype that all rappers hail from poor, urban communities with broken homes, are high-school dropouts, have a rap sheet of arrests and a 3-year-old daughter that they can’t afford to take care of.

Most celebrities enter public consciousness with clean slates, and it’s their prerogative if they wish to stain their reputation by doing something stupid. With rappers, it’s the opposite. By simply being in that line of work, they are instantly categorized, and pegged as being a “thug” or “uneducated.” It’s not right, but it’s the way it is. And guys like Lil’ Wayne are to blame for that.

Enter Ben Haggerty, also known as Macklemore.

Arguably the most famous white rapper to enter the game since Marshall Mathers himself, Macklemore burst onto the scene almost exactly one year ago, when his song “Thrift Shop” played pretty much everywhere.

It’s a catchy jam, no doubt. But as the first line of the song is, “Now I walk into the club like, ‘What up? I got a big cock!'”, it did very little to give us an endearing impression of Macklemore, the person. That, on top of his slicked back hair and penchant for wife-beaters, he never really had a chance.

I’ll admit myself that — at first — while I did think he was a talented guy, that he struck me as a loser. I’m just being honest.

But then I heard this song, and my viewpoint of him pretty much did a complete 180.

“Same Love” is a song that promotes the legalization of same-sex marriages. The cover artwork for the single shows a photograph of Macklemore’s uncle, John Haggerty, and his partner Sean. Reportedly, the song stemmed from Macklemore’s frustration with homophobia that exists in today’s hip hop.

Now you can say whatever you want about the song; that it’s a money-grab, that’s he’s trying too hard, and obviously I can’t attest to what his exact motivations are, but the main point here is that Macklemore is using his platform for the good.

People don’t realize just how influential popular musicians are. By saying one thing, or writing one Tweet, they reach millions of ears. People who devote their lives to advocate for a cause will never have the opportunity to speak to as many people as someone like Macklemore does every single time he steps onto a stage.

And I think that is what’s important. Rather than bragging about the size of his junk, he also took the time to preach something that should be obvious to everyone — marriage equality. Whether he truly has a Martin Luther King-like fervor for this issue or not is irrelevant. This track is more than enough advocacy that could be asked for from someone of his stature.

So that is what won him my respect.

But what won him my respect for a lifetime … was this.

Macklemore performed the song last week at the Osheaga Music Festival in Montreal, and invited Tegan and Sara onstage to sing the chorus. Tegan and Sara are sisters, popular indie rock singers, and openly gay.

The result? An absolute chilling and poignant performance. It’s hard to not respect a guy after he does something like that.

Although that could change if he continues to opine on the magnitude of his girth.

It’s interesting to me that people are so secretive about their salaries

Their tends to be certain personal information that people prefer to keep confidential. For example, many people choose not to disclose their weight in most situations. At least I know that is the case with most females.

Age is another thing that people like to keep under wraps, particularly as they become older. I figure it’s mainly because those figures can lead people to forming an instant generalization about you. By simply hearing a number, they create an opinion. And obviously, that’s not right. So it’s slightly understandable why people might want to withhold those personal details.

Another one of those personal details? Salary.

By stating how much money that you earn yearly, you are opening Pandora’s box. Not just one judgment, but several judgments will be made about you upon divulging your income. For one, people will make the distinction as to whether you are “rich,” “well off,” “average” or “poor.”

Next, they will question your line of work. If you’re underpaid, they’ll wonder why you haven’t sought another job and/or field.

Last, others will compare their own situation to yours. If they make more money, it’ll confirm in their mind that they are doing better than you are in life.

So that’s why people like to keep their salaries a secret. And I get that. It’s universally known that you don’t ask somebody what they make. When it comes to money, it’s a touchy issue.

But the thing that I find most interesting is how we don’t even tell our own friends how much money we make. Especially because most conversations we have with friends revolve around money. Typically when you are with your buddies, you are doing activities that involve spending money. Also, people will update their friends about their living situations, and if they plan to move into their own apartment or whatnot. Generally, those conversations all circle around individual salaries, and yet, they are rarely mentioned.

Again, I understand why, but I still think it’s very interesting.

I don’t blame people for this, but I blame the social stigmas that have been created. We should not be judging people for how much money they make. For one thing, there are many fields in which people don’t start getting compensated until much later in life. Take doctors, for instance. While in med school, they’re not making shit. It’s not until they are in their 30s when the dough starts rolling in.

And that’s the case for many professions. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that everyone is set to earn a big payday, but my point is that there are a lot of factors that go into what somebody is earning at any given time, and that’s why it is unfair to form judgments.

There are some careers where salaries are common knowledge. Professional sports in one of them. The minute an athlete signs a contract, it is on Twitter before the ink even dries. Granted they make millions of dollars, but, if they can be so open about it, why can’t everyone be as forthright?

First of all, if you are earning a salary to begin with, it means you have a stable job, and that alone is something to be proud of. So there’s no reason to be ashamed about your salary, considering that you are lucky enough to have one.

Money makes the world go round. I know that. But when you’re summing up a person’s entire existence, salary is just one of many factors. Heck, whenever somebody asks another person about their rent, they always have to preface the question with, “If you don’t mind me asking…”

And in the same vein, we always rip the price tags off of gifts before we deliver them. It’s common practice, but in the grand scheme of things, it shouldn’t be important.

I often say that Facebook has created a huge rift in our society.

Money did that long before Facebook ever did.

Our real life, Facebook and texting personalities

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday when something she said resonated with me. Not necessarily because of what she said, but the significance of the words she used.

We were discussing Facebook, and she actually made the distinction to refer to her Facebook profile as her “Facebook name.” As soon as she said it, I obviously knew exactly what she meant, but it stuck with me. Never before had I heard somebody actually say those two words together, but yet it dawned on me at that moment that we live in an age where people need to separate their real life identity and their Facebook identity, and by virtue of that, must refer to them separately.

Why this happens is not what I’m questioning. The friend is a teacher, and therefore, it makes perfect sense why she’d prefer to keep her profile untraceable to potential students and colleagues. Normally, people will do this by using their middle name instead of their last name. Middle names are not usually disclosed unless people tell you what there’s is. Or if you’re an asshole like Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

Now I know this doesn’t necessarily mean that all teachers — or any one who changes their Facebook name — have incriminating photos or material they wish to hide, but it stands to reason that when you work in a public institution, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

That being said, it still made me think about the different ways we have now to present ourselves. From the dawn of time until about eight years ago, we had one way and one way only — our behavior. How we interacted with others in public was the only way to give others an impression of yourself. The only other way would be through hearsay. Because I imagine that even in the stone age, there were still pansies who talked about others behind their back. They just did it in grunt form.

So there’s the old-fashioned “public portrayal,” and then there’s the Facebook portrayal. The one thing that surprised me the most about Facebook’s emergence is how differently people acted in these two separate contexts. Someone who always came across as level-headed and lively may act woebegone and melancholy on Facebook.

In essence, it’s a split-personality. Not in the sense as a mental disorder, but, by definition, it’s still presenting two different personality types.

But then I thought about it some more and I realized that there is a third way in which people portray themselves to others — texting. I honestly think that this method is the purest of them all.

In public, people filter themselves in an effort to appear presentable to others.

On Facebook, because of the safety net of being behind a computer screen — and because of the anonymity of posting statuses directed towards nobody in particular — some people say stuff that they’d never be bold enough to say otherwise.

But with texting, you’re only talking to your friends, and you don’t just give a shit. You’re likely not even thinking about what you say and just speaking naturally. Therefore, it’s the most pure.

After this analysis, it’s fair to ask — what is the middle ground? Where is the real person in all of this?

Well here’s what I’ve concluded: you should strive so that there doesn’t need to be a middle ground. And what do I mean by that? I mean that people should aim to act as consistently as possible in all three mediums.

I’m not saying that we have to all be saintly. Just be consistent. If you’re a douchebag, then be a douchebag in all three ways. If you’re a racist, then by golly, be offensive through phone, computer and to people’s face! That way, at least I’ll know who you are.

This has actually become one of my goals in life. I want people to know who I am, and what I am all about, regardless of where and how they converse with me. And that can only be accomplished by displaying consistency, and acting the same in all contexts.

And I’m not saying it’s easy. Sometimes we feel compelled to lament on Facebook. It happens. And sometimes we just don’t feel like having a text conversation and will ignore somebody.

But, that being said, I think it’s still a pretty noble goal to strive for. Because if there’s anything in life that we should want to be, it’s authentic. Even if you don’t grow to be as successful as you wished or be, or as popular as you wanted, at least the people you did associate with can say that they knew exactly who you were.

It’s like the title track on The Who’s 1978 album, “Who Are You?”, sung by Pete Townsend. I don’t know any other lyrics to the song besides that, and I’m sure that’s not the message the band was trying to get across at all, but let’s just roll with that.

The irony here, of course, is that I actually have a fourth platform in which to express myself, and that is this blog. And if you compare my real life self to my blog self, well I’m more bipolar than Amanda Bynes.

*Googles Amanda Bynes*

Okay, let’s not go that far.