You Are What You Listen to — but What If You Change the Song?

T.S. Lowry

I used to feel guilty for not listening to an entire song.

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Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

My guilt started when Apple incorporated “Plays.” The song deserved the extra tally, so I’d listen to it in its entirety, even if I outplayed it. My top-25 played songs? Yeah, I stopped skipping those so I could rack up the plays.

That’s when numbers started to take over my life, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. We usually don’t.

We attach these stupid stats to everything. You know… How many goals have you scored? How many people have you hooked up with? How many times have you listened to that song? These stats become the main focus, the purpose. It has a lot to do with online you and making sure people think of you in a certain light... that you created.

“OMG, did you really listen to “Party In The U.S.A.” 1,072 times?”

Yeah… It’s a good song. And who cares how many times I’ve listened to any song.

We start acting a certain way and being a certain person on social media, a person we wish we were in real life — important, loved, and a person who has it all.

Do you really like that song, or will playing it help to align with your online persona? Do you really, like, love to eat avocado on a mere piece of bread (no offense, bread), or does it look good for a picture and like you’re health-conscious? Do you really support that cause, or do you want others to see you helping and that you might be a good person?

I don’t blame people for doing things to be seen in a better light, especially with how addicting social media is and how awesome instant gratification feels (aka those likes adding up after you post a new picture with the perfect caption and blend of hashtags). Not to mention, your online portfolio has to be flawless in today’s society — if that’s even possible. It’s not.

The real world is stressful enough as it is, and now we have apps and networks we have to compete on. We have to recreate ourselves for the sake of impressing people. I haven’t even gotten to dating apps yet (and I won’t).

I’m taking the pressure off.

In fact, I did a few months ago. I stopped posting on Facebook and plan on deleting my account on January 2, 2019, when a contract with a client ends. (Actions speak louder than words, so we’ll see if I stick with that plan.) I deleted my verified Facebook page — it had over 1,000 followers — months ago. I can’t tell if I’m telling you that because it means I deleted Facebook before and I can do it again (I also deleted LinkedIn), or if I’m trying to brag and look better in this light — do you see the issue here?

I want to make something clear: I don’t think I’m better than anyone and I try to be myself as much as possible because that’s who the people closest to me like to be around and call their friend, nephew, cousin, brother, son. That’s also who I want to be.

I don’t blame people for posting things that aren’t 100 percent true on social media. We all do it in our own way. After all, there’s that instant gratification buzz and some people make a lot of money off their posts. Some people like it. It’s their way of creating art.

I know I’m not alone when feeling pressure from these networks and stats. That was evident while watching The American Meme and seeing how unhappy a group of successful influencers are, despite the fact that it looks like they’re “crushing it” … online. I try not to read too much into documentaries — because of propaganda and sensationalism — but some of the influencers seemed truly unhappy. It wasn’t all of them. It’s amazing that we see them as successes yet they’re just as miserable as the rest of us. Most people don’t need to watch a documentary to discover that.

I can’t imagine that amount of pressure. One bad Instagram post could lead to their careers ending, death threats, etc. I feel pressure from my little social media following, even when I can just delete a “bad” post and nothing will come out of it because I’m not famous or important.

I deleted my Twitter account (and made a new one) because I didn’t want to be judged by my 300 or so followers at the time. Those followers were also from a different life (my sportswriting career) and I feel like I did them a favor. I’m lucky I’m not well-known or else people would have caught on pretty damn quick. It’s hard to hide when you’re famous, even online, I can only imagine.

I can’t even stop refreshing my most recent Mailchimp campaign and I only have 12 subscribers. Listen, I only have 12 because I’m trying to take the pressure off and I deleted people who I prefer not to see my work … and there I go trying to justify a metric that doesn’t have any importance or signal how good (or bad) of a person I am.

I’m not one of those people who think all social media platforms and phones are bad. That’s not true and people get different buzzes and meaning from different networks (I still love Snapchat). But it’s become a real problem to constantly live on our phones, even when they aren’t ringing because they have become phantom limbs. It’s been written about too many times and it will continue to be until social media, technology, and people change.

I’m taking the pressure off.

If I want to change a song, I will, regardless of how big the pool of plays is.

That might sound like a pathetic win, but a win is a win. People change and priorities follow suit and we have to constantly reinvent ourselves to feel fulfilled. For the time being, having the power — and using it — to change a song will do just fine.

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Just a guy who likes to cruise the aisles at the local 7-Eleven

Los Angeles, CA
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