Pay up and spin the dial

The Examiner

Life is just lunging from one coping mechanism to another, isn’t it? 

I’ll admit that I’m old enough to still think of cable TV as a mind-blowing advance beyond what was before, even though cable has grown old and desperate as new rivals, new formats and new ideas about TV itself have overtaken it. 

Jeff Fox

It’s a long way from three black-and-white signals of fuzz and shadows to today’s on-demand streaming services, but we can evolve. Write a check, learn the protocols, evolve. It’s the way of things. 

The other day on a TV show they were telling a sad story, and under the narration they played the old hymn “Steal Away.”  

I needed more of that, so I reached for my latest new coping mechanism, Spotify. And here came “Steal Away” and a bunch of other good stuff. 

Spotify – like Amazon, YouTube and the rest – means handing your life over to yet another algorithm that thinks it knows you. Back in the three-channels-of-fuzz days, we were told that a wondrous age of technological advance, leisure and enlightenment was coming, though it turns out that the average consumer-facing algorithm anticipates my next whim about as well as a Magic 8-ball might. 

Algorithm also is the root word of “rabbit hole.” Still, fools rush in where angels fear to tread and we plunk down a little cash for an ad-free Spotify trip to, well, John Denver, I guess. To be clear, I’ve moved on. The ship has sailed. But I clicked on one James Taylor song that one time, and now it’s all “Sunshine on My Shoulders.” Please stop. 

But one discovers things too. When I was in high school and knew everything – didn’t we all? – I couldn’t stand Cat Stevens. I respect the artist and his choices, but the music left me cold. This put me on thin ice with certain members of the cool crowd, but I was never in much danger of being inducted into that group anyway. 

Spotify insists it knows better. Take one spin through “American Pie” and here comes a ton of Yusuf, that is, Cat Stevens.  

You know what? He ain’t bad. Positive, life-affirming, you do you and embrace the universe. Whatever. I was a little less receptive back in the day. We do evolve. 

I marked “Steal Away” with the little green heart that means “I want this on deck all the time.” I got algorithmed toward a bunch of similar stuff. 

Now the hymn “Over My Head” is my new favorite song. If Spotify has anything to say about it, there will be another new favorite next week.  

Such as they are, the wonders of the age have their uses. 

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net or on Twitter at @FoxEJC.