What is the deal with music obsessions?

Here is the deal about me: I do not listen to music. I have never bought a CD and never downloaded a song in my life. Yes, I bought CD’s for other people, and I burned them songs. But mp3’s get deleted from my hard drive within days of burning, and I give away my CD’s to friends and family. I don’t even own a stereo system, a walkman or an ipod. I have no need for them.

I do put the radio on in the car sometimes, and flip it to one of the popular music stations. I like noise in the background. I will listen to anything though – from metal, through punk to pop. As long as it’s catchy, I’ll enjoy it. But I don’t care about this stuff enough to actually go and buy a CD, or download a song that I was humming along with. I do not feel the need to listen to music outside the car.

This makes me a freak of nature though. I know this because whenever I meet someone new, they always ask me the same thing: “what music do you listen to?”.

Every single time, I need to explain that I have no preference whatsoever. Usually people do not believe me when I tell them. Most of them try to quiz me. They ask all kinds of questions, about my musical preferences trying to gauge which genre do I like the most. Everyone has their own approach to this little interrogation, and it is always awkward…

I have been trying to understand this phenomena for a while now. It seems to be a social thing. Certain groups listen to specific music, and share similar values. In many cases it is almost like a religion! It is a complete set of beliefs it’s own fashion sense, proscribed lifestyle choices and specific attitude.

In effect, if I figure out what music you like, then I can immediately know what kind of person you are. I can guess what lifestyle you prefer, what clothes do you wear, and what are your political views! Furthermore I also know if it is ok for us to be friends, or if we should be mortal enemies (because if our music tastes are incompatible, it is not cool for us to hang out).

Sometimes I think I should just pick some type of music and claim that it is my favorite – just to make social interaction easier. But I just don’t care about that stuff… And I don’t feel like researching social implications of choosing one music genre over another. Unfortunately my lack of musical affiliation throws people off big time.

Some individuals simply can’t function properly until they have me nicely categorized under some kind of label. It creates some sort of mental disturbance – some sort of state of restlessness and uneasiness. To avoid causing them some major psychological trauma, I sometimes ask to file me under the neutral, non music related “geek” label. That usually helps to avoid severe brain damage. In most cases however id does not stop the intrusive questioning.

I have actually noticed that the intelligent and educated people tend to ask less music related questions. They also have an easier time to accept my neutrality. On the other hand the dumb simpletons want to know what music do you like, before they even know your name. And if they don’t get a clear answer they freak out. So I’m guessing this is some sort of mental shortcut mechanism. It probably evolved to allow the neo-nandertals of this world to devote their precious cognitive processing cycles for such important tasks as breathing and walking at the same time.

Personally I think this whole music-identity deal is silly. Yes, it is a very human to form social groups, based on shared values, occupation, political affiliation or religion. Why music though? Did my generation somehow managed to confuse musical taste with values? Why do I always have to feel like an outcast because I do not want to worship ONE chosen music genre?

So let me put this out in the open: I do not care what music do you listen to! I refuse to make assumptions about you based on who is your favorite singer, or guitar player.

Instead, why don’t you tell me who is your favorite writer?

Oh, yeah – I forgot. No one friken reads books anymore… And that is somehow ok. But if some guy doesn’t obsessively listen to music then he is a weirdo.


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