Spotify is flat and I hate it while hating to love it.
With a toe dipped upstream, I can tell you what happens down. For about six months, I hearted my favorites on Spotify pretty haphazardly. Come December, I’m served the “what you missed” year-end playlist, and ok it’s pretty darn close. Headphones on. Something from someone I have no idea who has me in an infinitely reverberating music dream. It’s hitting. I didn’t go to the record store, I never heard this in my friend’s car, I didn’t click this – not directly. It was brought to me.
But what happens downstream isn’t just a pile of playlists on a platter, curated by a machine god. Don’t mistake yourself for someone being served by something greater than you. In the infinite scroll, you are as alone as you could be: you are your new godlike thing. You liked it all. You made the paths appear. Your own sense of discovery has been rerouted from the world around you back toward a high fructose version of the well-trodden paths you’ve already been down.
What’s downstream, I’m sorry to say, is you looking at yourself in the mirror, over and over and over again. The question is whether you are still up for that. You can always see what’s east and west instead.
At least for now, I believe we are still the masters of the machines. We’ll see what next year brings.