Life On Shuffle.

It’s being said, written about and tweeted everywhere: there’s a lot to hear, read and tweet about these days. So much so, that I find I am increasingly seeing articles about all of this information overload and how it is impacting our lives. A recent story in The New Yorker by Mike Spies examines his interaction with Spotify and other music streaming services, and how he laments the modern experience of hearing music and misses the days of bringing home a physical CD or LP.

I’ve found myself having the same problem. When all of this music is available at your fingertips, its value seems to diminish a bit. I still have a wall of vinyl albums and CDs at home, and though I can point to it and proudly proclaim “these are mine, I own them”.  I am then more than likely to turn on my ipod, and shuffle through thousands of songs, missing the days when I would sit with an album in my hands, memorizing both the music and the album’s artwork.

True story: when my wife and I moved in together nearly 25 years ago, we combined our vinyl album collections. We had known each other back in high school, her cousin was one of my best friends. As I alphabetized our albums, I noticed that my copy of Earth, Wind & Fire’s That’s The Way Of The World had her name written on the back, in her handwriting, and it had been crossed out by me and I had written my name over it. 20 years before then, I must have brought it to a party and wanted to make sure it got back to me if I left it there (great album by the way). Objects, they become part of your life, digital files? Not so much.

Vinyl record sales have been going steadily upward in the past few years. Urban Outfitters is selling vintage polaroid cameras and film to trendy young hipsters. I look at these trends and wonder if perhaps some consumers aren’t fulfilling an innate need to downsize; to hold something tangible in their hands. If so, I applaud it, and hope it leads people this holiday season to visit small, privately-owned shops; perhaps purchasing some handmade items. You may feel a little different about your purchase than if you had just clicked a button on your screen that says “Purchase.”

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