The Value of Choice

For a choice to have meaning It must also have cost: There must be something selected And something else lost. —Nate Dickson

Listening to music on streaming services gives us the fatigue of having everything, but not being able to decide what we want out of the mess.

Robert wrote about this on his blog, talking about his Maybe-Kinda-Sorta-Mid-life Crisis.

Some good quotes from that article:

I have a family membership to Spotify. I truly understand the marvel that is being able to listen to any music at anytime, anywhere. No limits. Amazing, right? Not quite. Growing up, my friends and I used to go to Peaches in Altamonte and browse the CDs and cassettes. We would purchase CDs based on friends recommendations, art work and feelings. There was a process of curation involved. Decisions needed to be made. I had $15 dollars —“What should I buy?” There was commitment. Frankly, not every choice was good; I had a lot of CDs that were crap, but I spent effort in listening. Hell, I chose to buy it, I am going to damn well try to like it. Sometimes, it worked. I ended up liking music I didn't start out doing. There was discovery. (emphases in original)

For me the music store was Five Mile Disc and Tape, a brilliant little music store with gnarly old-school paneled walls. Then Hastings, Books, Music, and Video, a store so perfectly attuned to my needs I rarely went anywhere else, and ended up working for them for a couple of years.

But I've had the feelings Robert describes. When I can listen to anything I end up listening to the same few things; the act of discovery on Spotify or Tidal is exhausting and uninteresting. I haven't invested anything, so I don't care.

He expands out to the rest of life:

I want to make. I want to decide. I want to spend effort. I want to build friendships. I started purchasing old stereo equipment to listen to CDs. I want to get up and turn the volume knob. I want feel things with my finger tips... (emphases in original)

I don't think that we, as humans, can or should be satisfied with being consumers only. We are a restless species, we want to wander and discover and try things and write and paint and create and make messes.

But we're not profitable when we're creative. When we are making things we aren't making money for others. I can't really blame Spotify et al for what they're doing; they're delivering exactly what we asked for. It's up to us to use our intelligence and guide what we are doing with their services.

I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting 100 Days To Offload.

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