Sunday Sesh: You are Too Old for Physical Media


Well, you might not be. But I am. Or am I?

I am experiencing something of a crisis. A slow-motion crisis which, due to low casualties or collateral damage, has been audaciously ignored by Fox News, CNN and MSNBC alike. Or if it does not qualify as a crisis per se, then it is most certainly a dilemma. A kerfuffle? A low-risk cognitive distortion?

I am falling out of love with physical media. Testosterone levels deplete with age, and subsequently interest in all things physical depletes. Or so the incessant radio adds for male hormone treatment assure me. Am I a statistic? Am I but a symptom of a disease that was written in mankind’s evolutionary dawn? Have I been doomed to an anhedonic twilight since my very first physical media purchase at age 7: the cassette of Poison‘s seminal [sic] Open Up and Say Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh…?

I was once warned that some day I would have to stop playing with toys. Does another someday inevitably come for every adult when he/she/it must stop playing with CDs, records and tapes? The dust-gathering piles of CDs I’ve accrued over the years are certainly portals to priceless works of art which regularly inhibit my pathological bent toward voidgazing, but the physical portals themselves are not priceless–they can be sold at the local record store for upwards of $1 per unit, and in a materialist ontology they constitute nothing more significant than clutter. Doubtless I am in possession of at least 200 CDs that I will never listen to again, whether because my tastes have changed or I’ve heard them too many times or they are too fucking scratched to play (read: barely scratched at all) or there is simply not enough time in any given life to juggle comprehensive reverence of the old with ceaseless discovery of the new.

I have changed residences four (4) times in the last seven (7) years, and each time I box up all these dust-covered memories and lug them off to my new address instead of throwing at least half of them in the garbage. Why? Because most of these items hold a great deal of sentimental value and I fear that to abandon them would be to jettison some fundamental fraction of my Self. But to the question of whether or not I need more physical media to sustain some sense of that Self, the answer is very nearly resolutely No. The thrill of acquiring new physical objects is one of diminishing returns. When I started using bandcamp, I would only purchase albums that were not available in CD format. Then I found myself purchasing CDs through bandcamp in order to have an immediate digital backup, because ripping CDs to  your computer is boring and CDs are arguably the most fallible physical media in existence. And these days I tend to listen to digital downloads on my computer more often than physical media, to which I only really listen in the car. An inversion has taken place, in which I’m now only prone to buy physical copies if the digital is not available (NOT AVAILABLE, IN THIS DAY AND AGE), or if the album promises to be a timeless companion rather than a passing fancy. And as for passing fancies, in a day and age when this here Toilet barrages my poor psyche with innumerable tasty new things on a daily basis–most of which are available for immediate purchase via bandcamp–there’s almost no reason not to indulge them. Before bandcamp I used to by 5, 10 new albums a year. Now I have to consciously prohibit myself from buying 20 or 30.

In the consumer frenzy engendered by bandcamp and This Toilet Tuesday and the Mailmanbro series, I can no longer tell the difference between a passing fancy and a lasting investment. So I’ve sort of almost maybe come around to the idea of rarely spending money on physical media. Why throw more wood on the fire? There could be unforeseen consequences, psychic backlashes, lost sleep . . . I don’t know what will happen. But I’m tired of forgetting which pile my copy of Thou‘s seminal [Editor’s Note: We’ll allow it.] Summit is in. So, yeah, here’s the digital:

How do you feel? Are you tired of ferrying boxes and boxes of physical media from one shitty apartment to the next? Do you feel a sort of existential fatigue at the thought of staying physical? Do you cling to the expansion of your vinyl library because you hate your job and your family and collecting music invites an illusory sense of accomplishment? Sound off in the comments below. Or, if this topic bores you to tears–or you didn’t read the rant because it was too long–then just tell us all what you’ve been listening to today.

(Featured image via)

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