More than 150 years before The Sex Pistols they saw ‘no future in England’s dreaming‘
Not all new technology is good. Mere usage doesn’t make it good. Take music. Social media killed the experience of belonging to a real group or community, and guided association replaced receiving recommendations from real people. YouTube’s or Spotify’s algorithms now tell us what to listen to. Our online profile and history, our preferences, age, Zip code, sexual preference, political orientation and credit card information, it is all used to give us the optimal listening experience and propose the music we want to listen to next. A perfect service, right? Maybe. Just know that these algorithmic rules send you deeper and deeper into your comfort zone, like a bottomless pit of what you like already. After all, recommendations based on ‘likes’ and algorithms are nothing but endless variations of your (hardened) preferences. Nothing new or unexpected will come out of it.
But don’t listen to me, I’m just a Luddite, a dinosaur, practically extinct.
Just ask yourself: Do we listen to ugly music? Do we even want to? How about extremely long songs or ultra short ones? Concept albums or albums in general? Minimal music without a beat or melody? Complex Jazz? Atonal compositions? Actually, those are not even the right questions. The right question is: when was the last time you listened to a style or an artist you didn’t know yet or thought you didn’t like?
I could give you advice. Tell you how to listen or even what to listen to. But…that would be self-serving, arrogant and all too easy. It’s also not important. Just remember that the technology we use most is tricking us into eliminating variation, and creating and endless cycle of confirmation instead. Just switch off the recommendation function. It will make you happier in the end.