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  • Writer's pictureMalone Urfalian

Auditory Budget Contraction: QE or QC?

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

Has anyone else noticed a change in their audio consumption habits? As someone who discovered that podcasts could be anything other than the bullshit my mom sends me about centering my breathing and positive thought alignment, sorry Michele, pretty late into 2021. They have since become the primary use of my Spotify app. Actually, I would extrapolate that this phenomenon is not unique to my own audio consumption habits, but is representative of the larger listening sphere. The only podcast I knew about before my awakening was Cum Town, predominantly through clip channels on Youtube that would isolate the best bits from these hour long episodes.

From conversations with my peers, most of whom hate Cum Town, preferring to listen to a group of white women telling long form stories about horrific unsolved crimes, their own introductions into podcasts is catalyzed by a desire to escape their own horror show. I by no means am gravitating away from music, or pumping the brakes on listening to new music, but I have been keen on recognizing the shift in my listening habits over time. I, much like other mostly human beings, can only listen to anything play for a certain amount of hours in the day, my auditory budget. My budget has been increasingly shifted to podcasts that deliver my own thoughts back to me, versus music that develops these thoughts. Maybe I have black pilled myself away from enjoying music as much as I used to, maybe the allure of listening to New York socialists dunk on Joe Brandon is too great. The single factor I think is most recognizable in this shift is the desire for a greater amount of information about the world around me.

Music has largely served as an amplifier to my life, not an escape. And not to out myself here, but I have vivid memories of biking around The Valley, tears in my eyes, singing the first Juice WRLD album to myself under my breath triggered by my dysphoria about going to college. Now, after looking at my recent saved albums on Spotify realized that I have been, for the past month, only listening to Fastball’s ‘All the Pain Money Can Buy’ Lil Keed’s (rip) ‘Long Live Mexico’ and an amalgamation of Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and other Highwaymen adjacent artists. When I think about these songs and albums, what emotions are they amplifying?

They are amplifying the desire for discovery, which actually pushes me towards, not a deeper dive into their music, a journey into my sisters makeup drawer to put on bright white foundation and red lipstick and mumble misquoted lines from ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ This is a hyperbole, kind of, to demonstrate a want for a greater understanding of what the hell is going on around me.

Where am I? What the hell is going on? And why is everyone so scared? Podcasts are a limbic escape from these thoughts, having a voice I trust such as Matt from Chapo Trap House, or Anna and Dasha from Red Scare again outing myself here, provide a comforting reinforcement and challenges of assumptions I hold about events I do not fully understand. Be it cultural, economic, political or personal, events are unfolding at an increasingly alarming rate. We are presented with hyperbolic, constant growth and change. Taking this comfort with a grain of salt, recognizing the risk of sounding like I am forming parasitic, long distance, relationships with the population of Brooklyn, I am not doing that. I hate New York. I am searching for something that can only be felt through objective recognition.

Being back in the valley, maybe my finger is no longer on the pulse of this country and I want to hear other voices. Out of the midwest for a few weeks and I am already simping about not seeing couples in Lets Go Brandon hoodies, white 20 somethings with glazed over eyes stumbling past Wrigley Field, watching people from suburban America attempt to generate nostalgic meaning that was never there. Maybe my neurosis about our informational war are increasing given my new geographic location, maybe I am also scared. So, why isn't music helping?

Drowning myself in information creates a sink or swim scenario, and I am training to be, insert olympic swimmer here, the only two I know I think both are bad people? Would fact check, but again they are swimmers. I want to swim, I want to be equipped with the tools and resources, not simply as aesthetic objects of allegiance, but to implement in a discursive sense, manipulation of my material condition. A potentially failed project that generates new neurosis.

Unwilling to drown in sounds of crashes and rides,

voices seem to occupy my time.

Do we all have an increasing desire for information, is more consumption as much of an escape as rejection?

Pick up your headphones.

There are a lot of rhetorical questions in a short amount of words. So you're wondering what the fuck my point is. My point is that previous creature comforts are not working for me, my neurotic warfare has taken new ground.

In debating what i wanted to writing about, my options all involve a dismissal of musical elements, a rejection of the medium of music in favor of direct auditory and written criticism, so i decided to grapple with that idea more directly and by more directly, i mean through a loose series of half thoughts, encoded behind language no one really wants to read, but is psychically comforting if you spent too much time online as a developing youth.

Podcasts are now my amplifier, the drum beat marching my feet forward, no longer are rides amplifying the sound of crushing bones, but the nasally voice of a lower east side transplant complaining about there being too many coffee shops. As the external world changes, so do our individual habits, this was a little bit about my own habits and why they are shifting.

Photo by Jaime Lopes on Unsplash

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