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Generation Z Has Food Poisoning: Compulsive Media Consumption

Photo by Seze Devres Photography


Currently, if you aren’t passionately into advertising your obsession for Ambient Recycled Noise Felt Rock DnB Fusion produced by multi billionaires, but, of course, not in the below minimum wage way, honestly, you’re a waste of oxygen. Put quite simply, this is the majority of transactions happening over the music platform, TikTok, today. Also known as the breeding ground for gen z “incel” and “femcel” hipsters. These new wave subversive avant-garde gatekeepers genuinely disturb and live to glean the weak. Neither their tumbler worshiping nor analog a**hole ancestors dared to be this cocky, they’ve blessed themselves as indie in its highest fidelity. Recorded and rewarded is the spectacle amount consumed not digested. Whether it be music, movies or this season’s, frankly vile, rotation of fast fashion trends. Post technology birth, present surveillance conception we are not allowed to comfortably be conscious of our individuality as internet media consumers. These assumed harmless online behaviors, manifest themselves horribly in and out of the internet — already revealing a mass social epidemic debilitating the youth it targets. Capitalist bred technological innovation forces young consumers’ natural music interests and instincts into competition-like consumption.

My dad hates Spotify. For some context, his first career was as a graphic designer. In between that he DJ’d, only original pressed vinyl, talked about expensive Swedish furniture and read Sarte for fun. All during the late 80s and mid 90s so I “suppose” he actually knew his stuff. Every time he hears something I’m listening to but doesn’t want to explicitly ask what it is, like clockwork, he asks “Did you actually find this or did Spotify recommend you this?” Older people doubt I actually like what I listen to, assuming it’s the algorithm’s taste. I assume it’s a jealousness over the power and coverage I can access. My dad’s doubt and nearly disdain towards music streaming, Spotify specifically, is caused by a blatant ego punch. James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) vocalizes this perfectly in the recently released documentary “Meet Me in the Bathroom.” Murphy states, “…There was this kid DJ-ing, playing ESG, and he played a Liquid Liquid song. What the f**k? These records took me years to find, and now some kid can just download it? Wait a second…I’d really wasted 30 years of my life” The switch from physical to digital music explicitly isn’t a reason for young consumers’ mental deterioration as it did to my parents. The music being online does not directly correlate with the rise in quantity based consumption. Music can still be “appreciated” in this form, if anything moreso, due to the wider scope of information accessible by a wider audience. 


Since band tees are dead and meaningless, there is a growing phenomenon of youth listeners who use cumulative tracking software that organizes their listening data into self-reflective statistics. Common sites include Obscurify, Reciptify, Last.Fm, Instafest and How Bad is Your Spotify. Streaming services themselves also offer yearly released campaigns containing the year’s cumulative statistics. Spotify’s being “Spotify Wrapped,” Apple Music’s being “Replay” and Youtube’s being “Recap.” Most contain the same content, such as top artists/songs within the 1, 3, and 6 month time frames. Each includes select specificities, such as showing how obscure your taste is or displaying all your statistics within a receipt format. Last.fm is mostly the same, but this software is constantly in conversation with a user’s Spotify account. It provides immediate results of how many times they’ve listened to something, each listen being called a “scrobble.” Software like these monitor listener’s behavior therefore, they act accordingly. Their listening history and quantity parallels how they aim to be perceived, rather than being perpendicular with what they actually want to listen to. “So bad I can’t listen to records without playing the actual songs on Spotify quietly in the background so I can still get my scrobbles” (@heeheeval, TikTok). Scrobbles hold significant value because they are made to be perceived by other people. This capitalizes on insecurities users have due to the belief that their music taste is 100% synonymous with their perceived identity. “I’d hate for anyone to remember me as the person I was when my Spotify Obscurify rating was below 90%” (@literallygoinginsanern, TikTok). I used to be obsessed with my musical statistics, so I am allowed to be critical of the act itself along with the people who take part in it. These tracking software are addictingly vain and it is so easy to convince yourself otherwise. 

Youth listeners have an update-only music taste, TikTok is the manufacturer. Going beyond listening to nicher music due to insecurity of how music taste reflects on a person, another portion of humanity honesty doesn’t even know what they like anymore. TikTok force feeds trending sound bites to users which curates a large portion of their music taste and preference. This TikTok behavior has already been quoted to have “ruined music” (Grace Lindquist). During 2022, artists such as Mitski, The Garden, Steve Lacy, Clairo and Lorde have vocalized major frustration with lack of crowd etiquette and overall community during live shows. It is argued that the artist receives ticket revenue from these specific fans so there shouldn’t be any issues. To believe this dehumanizes the artist who has a right to not be verbally assaulted, have heavy objects thrown at them mid show or be constantly met with a sea of phones. Delete TikTok. 

We can both save art and “Escape the Matrix,” but not one without the other. Deny the addictive temptations when it comes to the media you consume and where you consume it from. Take time to search for what algorithms have yet to reach or don’t want to touch. That art needs to be seen. 

Streaming services historically push limited diversity due to the ever pervasive eurocentric disease still lurking, even on the internet. Don’t feed into the “good” and “bad” music taste narrative, keep an open mind. This kind of thinking keeps the dopamine chokehold on us users, music tracking applications quenching our obsession for self validation. Support artists you enjoy directly. Although shows are not an accessible/safe option for everyone, this is an obvious suggestion. Along with buying merchandise, purchasing physical formats and donating.

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