6:27 PM CDT, September 30, 2012
When I began using the music program Spotify sometime last year, it changed my music-listening life. With literally any and all of the world’s recorded music now available in a five second search, it was like suddenly having the Holy Grail as your morning coffee cup.
I took the scrolling list of my Facebook friends on the right side of the player as a strange addendum to this revolutionary new program. After all, what did I particularly care what my friends were listening to? So what if Chad Peterson was listening to this or Laura Beatty Muteti listening to that? Oh, Jennifer Leininger is listening to “Letter To My Countrymen” by Brother Ali? Um, good for her? Glad you enjoy the suffocating saturation of Wisonsin albino rappers, Jen. Got enough of those, thank you!
I dismissed it as an oddity. I figured if these friends of mine had decided to sign up for some special program that allowed others to see their musical choices, that was cool. They were confident enough in their taste to let the rest of us see what they thought was worthy of a spin on the old vinyl (ancient metaphor; ask your parents), so good for them.
Then I got an alarming text message from an unidentified number.
“Hey, Steve! Just saw you were listening to the Lumineers on Spotify. I just saw them at Ravinia, and they were awesome!”
After a hasty flurry of texts back in forth, I ascertained that this message was from a girl I’d met once a year earlier through my friend Ian, had Facebook friended, and had subsequently not been in contact with (that sounded hinky, but literally we hung out for one afternoon in a bar with a bunch of people). Yet because we were Facebook friends, she could see my Spotify choices.
Though I liked this girl and had no problem with her getting in touch, this was incredibly troubling because I had no idea that this whole time, my musical tastes were running roughshod over the internets. This was panic-inducing for two reasons:
1) I accept anyone who friends me on Facebook. As a D-list Chicago celebrity, I frequently get requests from people who found a RedEye column entertaining. This means I have literally hundreds of “friends” who I've never met, who could be psychopaths or hippies or ventriloquists, all of whom can potentially see what music I’m listening to all day.
2) I listen to a lot of music. My entire profession consists of sitting in front of a laptop typing every bullshit thought that pops into my head (as is evidenced by this column), so I turn Spotify on in the morning and it plays nearly until I go to bed. This means that I don’t always listen to stuff that I would describe as “not particularly mortifying”. Okay, so someone out there has seen that I listen to the Kid Rock album “Rock ‘n Roll Jesus” alarmingly often. They’ve seen that I spend hours a day gorging on chick music like The Wailin’ Jennies. They know that when Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” came out, I listened to it on a loop for three weeks straight almost without interruption.
And I’m only bringing up the examples I'll admit in print!
Needless to say, this is terrible. If I were to creep up to even D+-list celebrity, it would be a matter of days before someone started a tumblr blog called “Douche Music of Markley’s Spotify”.
What’s next? Will Spotify provide live links to what people are actually doing while they listen to specific tracks? Will there be streaming shots of me getting down to D’Angelo’s “Voodoo” or rapping 2Pac’s “All Eyez On Me” into a fake-microphone spatula or weeping uncontrollably to Abigail Washburn’s “City of Refuge”?
Thanks a lot, synthesis of music and social media. You’ve ruined my reputation yet again.
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