During my freshman year of college, I met up with a girl for a CWRI (coffee with romantic implications). We met at one of the coffee shops on our campus — the type that solely employs members of the student body, and would spend the next few years being weirdly obsessed with bands like Phoenix. Think the aura of those iPod silhouette commercials, but embodied in an actual place.
Music ended up being the theme of the date. At some point during our non-Tinderized, remarkably inefficient pre-mating ritual, we got to the topic of tuneage. She asked me what music I was most into, which is always a semi-tough question to answer — if you say you like “everything,” you’re boring. If you say you like “everything but country,” you’re even more boring. If you’re actually honest, there’s decent chance this date is over.
Unable to fully respond to her inquiry, I decided to bring out my Dell laptop. At the time my Dell laptop was host to my iTunes Library, which I had spent several years cultivating — it consisted of thousands upon thousands of songs, downloaded, uploaded, and taken from a giant hard-drive owned by a kid named Brad. As an 18 year-old who spent way too much time constructing super deep playlists for dates that would never come, I was both proud and nervous to dive in.
We spent the next hour or so going through my grab bag of +44 and Baby Bash songs, ended up getting along, and initiated a “thing” that lasted just long enough to justify being overly dramatic when it didn’t work out. For that somewhat short-lived, probably not a relationship, I credit that iTunes library — for a decent amount of time, it did a really good job of masking my otherwise noticeable lack of personality and other inherent shortcomings.
I was making a playlist last week on Spotify, which is arguably the 2015 version of the iTunes library and the de facto music source to replicate the aforementioned coffee shop vibe. (While Spotify isn’t the most popular music streaming service, they do have that super chill voice actor who makes you want to unwind whilst talking about how much you like being the brand manager of a boutique digital marketing firm.) Phoenix made its way onto the playlist, which triggered memories of that coffee shop, which triggered memories of this particular date. Namely, I thought about how if that date occurred in 2015, we wouldn’t’ve been able to dive into the murky depths of my iTunes library.
My mind immediately went to that “the world sucks now because nobody owns or collects things anymore” place, which seems like an easy and unfair blanket statement to make about the world in general. While there are definitely sentimental cons to no longer boasting an exhaustive DVD collection, there are also some pretty clear — and oftentimes pragmatic — pros to cloud-oriented services from a consumer standpoint. Most obviously, music is much more accessible in a way that doesn’t mess with illegality. Additionally, when our pop-culture is unprecedentedly communal (i.e., the annual “House of Cards day”), there’s suddenly a unique, fun collective human experience that didn’t exist before.
That said, I do think that particular date would’ve suffered in the current age of non-ownership and relatively defunct iTunes libraries. Here are a few different ways the scenario described above might’ve turned out, if it happened today:
Scenario 1: Girl asks guy what music he’s into. Guy responds by saying he’s been “getting after it” on spotify. Girl doesn’t have spotify on her phone, so Guy hands her his phone. Guy immediately has a panic attack upon realizing that he gave his phone to someone he’s trying to romantically impress.
Scenario 2: Guy and Girl match on Tinder. Both are confused and self-aware and nervous about saying the wrong thing. Guy ends up talking about the career arc of Nick Jonas. The conversation eventually progresses to talking about the “Bonus Jonas.” Both parties take a step back to question how they managed to get to this point in their dating life. Suddenly it’s 12:38am.
Scenario 3: Guy and Girl go on date. Guy whips out his Dell laptop and shows Girl his iTunes library, which he syncs up to his iPod nano. Guy’s most played song is Party Like A Rockstar by Shop Boyz. Girl loves Party Like A Rock Star, but is understandably terrified and leaves.
Hopefully, the next version of iTunes/Spotify will maintain the casual vibes of its predecessors, so that the apocalyptic robots can sip their electric juice whilst romantically bonding over whether or not 2023 Drake is more emotionally pulsating than the 2011 version.