The other day, I was browsing a popular online image board when I stumbled across a thread which caught my interest; "What’s the most authentic way to find music?"
This kind of post is fairly common these days on Internet boards filled with people who understand you more than your real life friends do, but it raises a couple of problems.
Firstly, the writer was essentially asking if it was okay to continue doing something they enjoyed or if that made them some kind of poser, an obviously ridiculous question. Secondly it assumes that there is such a thing as an inauthentic way to discover music you like.
I should hope to anyone reading this article that the answer to both of those questions is obviously a strong NO. It raised a question for me though: why do so many people feel the need to be validated by people they can’t really interact with? Has Internet interest-group connectivity made us unsure of ourselves and our tastes?
It’s quite possible that the age of the Internet has made us more sensitive to these feelings of inferiority, but it’s also important to remember that for the better part of human history our outside forces of judgment have been those directly around us. These past forces of judgment still created the same feelings of ineptitude in people, but surely there’s been some kind of magnification of this effect in the Internet age.
It may not seem so comical to us now to think that someone searches for validation on their phone instead of from people met on a day-to-day basis, but it really has only been a recognizable phenomenon for the last decade or so. Especially when this praise-anxiety is rooted in something as simple as where you find music on the web.
The idea that one group of people have a stranglehold on "the cool, authentic music" is a bit of a dated one that is rooted in a lot of elitism.
Music is for everyone.
Take, for example, a local genre classification that gets tossed around without much thought: Appalachian music. People naturally have associations with the aesthetic, but what is Appalachian at its core? From Appalachia, no? So if I’m from southwestern Pennsylvania and I start a sludge band, this is just as Appalachian as a 90-year-old man with a banjo, right?
Behind all the superficial questions of aesthetics exists the one question that matters to anyone in music, "Do you like it?" With all of the impact music and culture have on our day to day life, it’s easy to forget that all of these things are just entertainment. The aesthetics of liking "the correct music" really seems kind of silly when it comes at the price of listening to music that you don’t like.