by Jeff Milo
-shuffling down endless URL aisles offering double-take-deals no longer so hard to believe in the daily blur – hearts on sleeves at such a steal in the big digital vacuum. Dog-walkers and baby-carrage-pushers, bus-stop sitters and even some daring old lady drivers, all have their eyes cast downward, their smartphones in their hands. Are we so unsettled by the prospect of silence? Daunted when tasked with walking to our next destination with empty ears and freely roaming eyes?
Is music - the live experience shared with a large group, in a room, in one moment to one song, or the intimate homebound (headphone-wrapped) one-on-one meditative in-take of sound - one of the few remaining outlets in which we can truly focus on something.
Columnists go on and on about our depleted attention spans. I think it's more that we have too many outlets, too many plugs, too may bands and not enough ears... (LATimes blog, today, looks at the future of music retail - via, of course, those devlish smarthphone talismans).
I’m regretting guzzling, and I’m telling you – guzzling – this first cup of coffee, but the typing isn’t going to stop now
The daily news can be a toaster oven spurting burnt crusty bellicosity, bemusement and disillusionment. Is it any wonder that we seek the tingling back-to-life melody-jolts of music - with such noise, noise, noise, yapping at you daily from the office or even from the side-bars of your favorite blogs - we seek our own damn channels and find respite from the anger of the breaking-news, safe in our headphones.
But is it possible to block out too much? Or risk blocking out the important stuff, as well? What are we letting into our ears when we do lift those headphones...or when we do look-up from our smartphones...
The headlines today, at least at the hour of writing this blog post, swirl around the controversial state amendment to North Carolina’s constitution banning gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships.
It’s easy to get worked up when you keep getting poked by the vitriol of punditry from the glowing-box shrines of our living rooms. The Fox News side chortles with vindication that the right way is the right way while the MSNBC side is up in arms with chunks of their hair grappled out in flabbergasted objection.
But as I read the various stories back today
one word sticks out: “Uninformed
” That, uninformed, being the word used by the side disputing the measure to explain its passage despite polls showing most North Carolinians supporting “some form of legal recognition for gay couples,” and also did not “understand that the proposal would also ban civil unions and domestic partnerships.”
The gay and lesbian advocacy group Faith in Americawas quoted as saying that certain supporters of the measure were “banking on
the populace’s misunderstanding.”
That phrase chills me.
Because we can’t cut through the white noise. This blog, included, will be one of a multitude of various blips across your twitter-feed, your tumble-weed tumblr, your top 15 satellite radio download podcast... Should I have inserted a youtube clip?
I'm not saying music, or some other unwieldy Galactus-esque media-monster is sucking away our attention spans - that's a tired song and dance (plus, the questions' already been asked: - "Is There Too Much Music?" -Telegraph -2009) - No, the thing of it seems to be we need to be more responsible, more conscious, of where we're allotting our said-spans-of-atención -
We can open up the newspaper and read about the disingenuous (and rather bold/hypocritical) off-the-cuff statements made by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, or we can flip towards the middle and gobble up the current sex scandal engulfing Welcome Back Kotter star John Travolta.
Or, if we so please, we can spend all morning listening to the new Jack White album, seeking and seeking for sneaky media-fire rips of the Animal Collective 7", the latest remix of Gotye's smash hit, or peek the new video from Best Coast. Or Adam Lambert, or Stevie Wonder or a Beastie Boys retrospective.
The musical side of it is just one aspect of the growing distraction rates. It's not that some, and maybe even many people lack the will, desire or idealism for civic engagement, its that it is easier than ever not only to be distracted (NY Times, Oct 2010 - Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction) - but to be misled - as might have been the case for some voters down in North Carolina.
And that's overlooking the ripe-for-parody dilemma of the modern hipster - what if you're not even listneing to the right band?
Then, so, what if you're a band? How are you going to reach the right ears?
Lord, too much coffee...We're burdened with an abundance of opportunities for mental occupation, be it intellectually stimulating, expansively trippy or just numbingly escapist. That makes us, be wary, more easily manipulated by the Internet's game of telephone.