The internet offers almost unlimited choice, which makes choosing a constant feature of life online. What to watch? What to read? Who to talk to? Elements of life with other people that used to be given can now be taken. That’s great and not. Not, because it’s exhausting; so much choosing makes you tired. Somebody asked me my preference about a work project recently and I told them I prefer not to choose but to be assigned. I get lazy.
So music, then. I haven’t depended on a radio dial for years. I have my own streaming library, and I choose every time I play music: something new or something old? An album or a playlist? Shuffle? Yes, shuffle. I have a “Liked Songs” list on Spotify that has 7,535 songs in it, and often I just hit shuffle on the whole thing to see what I get. There are entire albums in there, because Spotify used to automatically add every album in your library to the liked songs list. For the past few years, though, you’ve had to actually tap the little heart icon on the player to add a song. Whatever. There’s more music in there than I will ever systematically choose to listen to.
I have earned myself a little break from choosing with this list. When I shuffle it, I hear some songs I distinctly remember choosing, and I choose them all over again. Others play that I wouldn’t choose again. I delete those from the list. Choice finds us in the end.
Here are the first five songs I get when I shuffle the 7,535 songs I have “liked” in the nearly 10 years I’ve used Spotify.