On a recent #roadtrip with our children, we noticed that the 11y old and the 14y, had a playlist that was playing a very specific kind of music. While their #music beats had a slight variety, almost all the #lyrics were gloomy and depressing ones. That was quite strange and concerning. Not that we were overthinking, but why would seemingly normal children listen to depressing lyrics?
We asked them why they chose such music and what it meant to them. They said that they liked the music because that is what they have always been listening to and why would one want to listen to peppy music all the time when life was not all that fun. It was strange. While they said that the music helped them relate to their moods, we knew it was possibly much more than that.
That is when it struck us on what was happening. Once they listened once or twice to a popular music say from #Billie Ilish, #Drake, #Indila or even #TaylorSwift, the personalization engine from #Spotify and #YouTube was dishing out more of such music and the more they listened to it, the more depressing and desolate they became. They were being pushed into #echochambers and #filterbubbles.
We wondered what ever happened to the #diversity and richness of music that we as parents experienced in our childhood. We grew up in a time when music was not personalized. We listened to whatever was playing on the radio, in the shops, or on the streets. We experienced a variety of genres, artists, and moods. Much as we started relating to a sad song, since we were low, the album or tape would play a mix and combination of moods. The next song could have been peppy. Even radio was random. Sometimes we liked the songs, sometimes we didn’t. But the diversity and randomness of what would play next added to the spice quotient (ah! SPICE Girls).
Our children, however, seem to have a different relationship with music. They listen to what is curated and customized by an algorithm. The streaming platforms start filling them with more of the same and slowly and gradually push them into slots. It rarely suggests or plays anything outside their comfort zone. The moment they listen to one gloomy, depressing, and pessimistic song they get more of the same. The moment they listen to a cheerful, upbeat, and perky number they get more of the same.
Music has always been a part of our civilization. But the way we listen to music has changed over time.
So was the music in fact affecting their mental health and their well-being rather than being the other way round? Is this personalization of music, video and everything the reason for rise in mental illness, making each one feel sad, isolated, and hopeless? We wonder if, counter intuitively, music is preventing them from seeing the beauty and joy of life.
What do you think of #masspersonalisation and #technology that makes it happen?
You can read the part 2 of this post here – https://rajeshsound.com/how-personalized-content-is-ruining-our-mental-health/