Last week Jeff talked about an mp3 player being more “real” of an experience than a CD player because you have access to an entire library of songs, and thus can choose the song that is most appropriate to any given situation. But there’s a bit of a problem to this theory. There is an underlying assumption here that the “appropriateness” of a song exists entirely in the world of the mp3 player, not outside of it. For example, there are songs that I appreciate because they were given to me as a mix-tape (that’s cassette) in high school. Those songs are not only attached to that time and that person, but also to the experience of having it as a tape. I couldn’t “skip” songs as I can now, so when I encountered a song I didn’t like, I had to fast-forward through them, old school style. It wasn’t instantaneous, and I often had to jam through “play/fast-forward/play/fast-forward/play,” leaving memories of those physical acts, as well as the sound that comes from it. Additionally, I was more prone to listening to that song that I didn’t like than I would be were I to be listening to it on a digital technology. That mix-tape had a distinctly different experience associated to it than if it were a mix-playlist.
To circle back: I can listen to a song from that tape now off of my mp3 player, but the “appropriateness” of that song is influenced by the non-mp3 experience I once had. Which brings me back to my point – is the “real”ness of an medium determined in as much as it reflects something in the past? Isn’t every experience in this sense a new experience in and of itself, building upon the memories? If so, then the meaning of the situation is continually developed, and a less “appropriate” song picked is still as “real” as any other song.