the first experiment

i’ve been warned of the addicting effects of the media and have watched many roommates and friends fall into the trap of internet and 24-induced comas, resurfacing from their electronic caves only for cheese-itz and the occasional visiting teaching appointment. understandably, this has both saddened me and made me grateful for my own “above the influence” personality. or so i thought. after casually keeping track of my media habits for five days (i'm all about experiments this semester), i've decided i do have my own brand of addiction, in an area that seems to escape the definition of typical media addiction and, luckily, doesn’t face the same stigma. after listening to about 50 hours of music in five days, it became aware to me i’m a bit of a music junkie. not so much in the in the Burroughs sense of the word, but nonetheless it is an addiction.

now 50 hours of music didn’t initially sound like that much to me (considering i own weeks worth of music), until i paused to consider how much 50 hours of TV watching in a week sounded like, or 50 hours on myspace. obviously, a bit nauseating. yet i always seem to have music on---at school, in the car, while running, in the shower, while running in the shower, etc. we’re not really a pick-up-some-Thoreau-and-sit-by-a-pond generation, which manages to be both fortunate and unfortunate for reasons of practicality and illiteracy, respectively. but still i am saddened for some reason that i have this need for music. and although i would have liked to think myself above the pervasive influence of media, i may be one of the worst case scenarios. the addict who doesn’t recognize her problem or even begin to know how to deal with it.

and then surfaced the real “aha!” of the situation—my musical addiction is not limited in terms of quantity but also heavily involves quality, more accurately content. what i’ve found is that i'm constantly looking for the next thing, constantly looking for a greater musical “high,” as it were. i’m discovering that as i’m delving further into genres and eras, i’m no longer quite satisfied with what i’m currently hearing. each time i succumb to this addiction, i’m finding the fodder becomes increasingly eclectic. i’m ditching the cover-band-sounding trios and quartets in favor of the more experimental. so in light of the hours i’ve racked up this week and also due to my mini-epiphany, i decided i’d trace my addiction back to its infancy.

let’s say the Beatles were my gateway drug, the drug that got me hooked to music, wonderful but rather ubiquitous and recreationally safe. then came along other, slightly riskier drugs (think Pink Floyd), which only perpetuated my growing addiction for sound. although i still love these foundations, these “gateway drugs,” sometimes i feel like i physically need something stronger to satisfy my craving. yet, even though i am coming to terms with this addiction, i’m still to identify the negative effects. so i write this. writing is exploring.

music wasn’t rotting my brain, if anything i thought it was enlarging my potential for continual appreciation of what is to come and increasing my memorial capacity. for example, much of the time i’m not even giving the music my full attention, and don’t realize what effect it’s having on me, when lo and behold, i’m in a store and suddenly i find myself singing all the words to a song i haven’t even really listened to as anything more than background music. how do i know these words? have i even heard this song before?

now granted, this is a skill that comes in handy when playing music scene it or trivial pursuit, but i think more importantly this illustrates one of the most interesting, and most dangerous, guises of media. the subconscious realm as even more of a potential threat in terms of influence that the conscious, explicit media.

for the first time in my life, i’m starting to see how maybe i am more influenced by television and the internet than i thought, even though i hardly frequent either. if music has this way of creeping up on me years later, does this ring true for visual media? and although i can identify the standard negative effects of harboring these television and internet compulsions, i’ll still need to explore the negative effects of musical addiction.

what i have learned: i could have a lot worse addictions than music. like eating bouillon cubes by the handful.
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