No Expectations 024: Private Life
Do you ever feel like you don't have enough time for your hobbies and interests? Plus, new albums from Hollow Hand and Cusp.
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Making Peace With Limited Time and Limitless Possibilities
I can never shake the feeling that I don’t have enough time for my interests. This is probably a severe case of Music Journalist Brain but I’ve always found myself wishing I could stop the clock to just catch up on the things I enjoy: new albums, my Letterboxd watchlist, or that one TV show my friends are raving about. This anxiety used to be much worse when I was starting out in journalism but it’s still hard to shake the sense of dread that I’m not staying on top of music and culture enough to be good at my job. Between making my freelance deadlines, which keep the lights on here, drafting up a weekly newsletter, maintaining my relationships and friendships, going to shows, and doing errands, something’s gotta give. Maybe one week I don’t listen to any new music or watch any new movies or read any books or see any live music or keep up with my favorite sports teams and podcasts. This is normal and this is life but it’s also a source of stress feeling like I’m always falling behind.
It’s an obviously unhealthy mindset but this is what can easily happen when your interests become your job. I’m lucky to be able to make a living writing about music and culture but that writing can only be worthwhile if I’m actively listening and engaging with the things I’m covering rather than just approaching them as Content To Consume For Work. Sometimes when you have multiple short turnaround deadlines in a week, you’d rather have one where you can sit back and take your time. I recently had a longer lead deadline and actually had the time to read multiple books on the assignment’s subject, which was such a luxury. Art isn’t just something you can cross off a checklist. There is no insight gained from listening, reading, and watching as much as you can without some introspection and patience. As a writer and a fan, I feel a constant tension between the urge to be on top of what’s out and what critics are raving about and the need to spend quality time with a piece of art. You lose on truly getting an album when you try to cover as much ground as possible but you could miss out on hidden gems you’d love by giving it as much time as it deserves.
There’s also a part of me that believes humans are not meant to have this much of all recorded music and film accessible at the click of a button. You can feasibly spend more time debating what to watch, listen to, or read than actually doing it. As of 2022, there are 100,000 new songs uploaded to Spotify each day. Most of it is almost certainly garbage created by scammers and amateurs or it’s from well-meaning folks who make songs that are, charitably speaking, Not For Me. There’s a small chance that a few hundred or so of these tracks are worthwhile but an even smaller number of those will actually get any quality attention. I do think something’s been lost in the fact that discovering music is no longer work. Algorithms are tailored to your tastes and something that took an artist months to finish is a click away and more likely than not serving as background noise. Even when I like a band, I usually forget song titles way easier than I used to buying CDs and actually searching stores as a kid. When music comes out of your phone and laptop, it’s tough to keep it from being an ephemeral experience.