My Sound of the Union Address

My friend just told me a story about her friend’s three year old who received a party favor. He got a mini chalkboard and his reaction was, “Mommy, why doesn’t my iPad work?” 

This story came just in time as I’ve been considering our future. More specifically, I’ve been tallying the number of tangible items being added to the exponentially growing “extinct” list of our world as time jets into the future.

Something that has always meant a lot to me, and always will, is music. Even more than just the audible symphony that fills me with joy and affects my emotions is the surrounding culture and effect music has on my lifestyle. Not too long ago, I can remember how often I’d go into the now deceased Tower Records with my mom and sister after eating dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. We’d skim through the store, diving through rows of CDs in our respective genres’ aisles. When my mom would kindly oblige to buying the newest CD I had requested off  of the shelf, I vividly remember going home and listening to the CD in its entirety. While I’d listen, I’d find happiness while scrimmaging through the CD sleeve- reading the lyrics, the bios, or just looking at the pictures. Sometimes, if i was lucky, there would be an accompanying poster. 

As I grew older, buying CDs starting losing its allure with the ability to burn my own. Purchasing great album artwork transformed into creating my own directly onto a blank CD. From tagging artists’ names to writing the track lists, I still had the CD to insert into my car’s stereo. When I first got my license, I decided to head back to high school after lunch only to have my first solo drive. I was so eager to hop in and cruise along Ventura, music filling up the body of my car and gracefully escaping through the cracked windows. The first thing I did was insert a recently burned Sublime CD into my stereo, while turning up the volume. (note: Sublime isn’t typically my go- to genre, but what else goes so well with the feeling of freedom under the hot California sun during one’s teen years?!)  While enjoying the ride, I felt on top of the world as it was summertime…”and the living’s easy.”

Now, some may argue that the radio could have done just as good of a job on that ride, but they are wrong. There’s a certain method to one’s music madness. Songs are carefully chosen to match a mood. Or, say if one’s not about to go on their first drive, but rather stay stuck in hours of traffic, songs are chosen to detract and reverse the mood. Thus, CDs played an integral role to be in control of one’s own music destiny, and thus, one’s attitude. Even more so, they played a large role in the entire story telling aspect of music by placing an artist’s vision directly into the hands of the listener. The connection existed in the tangible and well thought out CD packaging, artwork, track list, and overall effort of the listener to go out and buy the CD. We placed a value on art in the only way that our capitalist society knows how to measure something that can’t be numerically measured. That is, by placing a price tag on feelings. 

Nowadays, things have changed, but the overall essence of how I feel about music and moods has remained the same. For example, I can’t even reverse my car without hitting play on my iPod that stays hooked up to the auxiliary in my car, its very own (and by extension, my very own) life support. But before moving the car, I must be sure I have found exactly the right track to groove with my mood.

Although I’ve gone deeper than intended into my point, my gist is simple namely that I feel sorry for my future unborn children. I’m scared they will find a CD of mine and question, “Why is this donut plastic?” I’m sad that they won’t hold newspapers and scramble to the back for the comics on Sunday mornings. It hurts that there are now iPads at restaurants in place of communication with the people who are going to put food on our table. 

Change is good, and innovation is better. But, at what cost? When do we step back and say enough is enough? When do we realize that human interaction is the basis that provides meaning in our potentially meaningless lives? By no means am I implying that I’m not a part of the problem. However, it’s imperative we all take a look at the society that we have a role in creating. We can’t create love with the machines that we rely upon so heavily. So, in hopes of making the world a better place, we need to, as John Legend would say, “take it slow….” because when it comes down to it, we are just ordinary people. 

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