Fear Of Change

One of the greatest gifts I was given in life was moving homes every year for the first dozen years of my life. I learned to embrace change. It’s been a curse too in some ways, but it pays huge dividends in my line of work.

I was thinking about that on my bike ride up the west side this morning. The whole debate about free music on this blog that has been happening over the past three days has been laced with fear of change. To quote my friend Tony Alva:

In 1979 we regularly sat in the basement of our friends houses,
smoked cigarettes (and other things), chatted the summer away and spun
records from each others collections. Some records we all had, others
were potential purchases (each record a cherished purchase). All the
“social networking” was peripheral and secondary to listening and
digging the music. We played air guitar and often times acted like
fools before heading out with an enormous cassette boombox in hand to
skateboard or hit the swimming hole.

In 2010, we’ll play streams into earbuds while dodging or cursing
the annoying advertising, or we sit at a desk searching endless lists
of on line free music (stripped of any real personal value or
investment) on a PC monitor. The new music, whatever is left of it,
pales in comparison to yesteryear since real artists refuse to
compromise and take on a “Sponsor” to keep them fed .

That’s fear you are reading in Tony’s comment, fear of change. That it can’t ever be as good as it was in 1979. And I was in the basement of Tony’s friend’s house (it was my house) and I know what he’s longing for. Times change. Tony lives in Atlanta. I live in NYC. But guess what. Tony and I didn’t talk about music for 20+ years. Now we talk about it daily. We aren’t spinning discs on the turntable in the basement anymore but we are talking. Friends again. And it’s because of technology not in spite of it.

Let’s look at baseball. Most every night this spring after I finish the dishes (that’s my job) I go to the family room and find Josh in front of the TV watching the Mets. He loves the Mets like I loved the Oakland A’s when I was his age. He doesn’t collect baseball cards or play stratomatic. He plays fantasy baseball on Yahoo (here’s his team [don’t click doesn’t work]- note the large number of Mets) and MLB on his xBox. And let me tell you, he knows a lot more about baseball, the players, the game situations, the stats, than I ever did. Now some of that may be his uncle (the Gotham Gal’s brother) coming out in him. But nonetheless, his enagement, to use the marketing term du jour, is way larger than mine ever was. Because of technology not in spite of it.

The best thing I’ve ever read on this topic is Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good for You. TV’s supposedly bad for you. Spending your day IMing is supposedly bad for you. Listening to music on your computer’s bad for you. Etc etc.

Rubbish. Technology is driving change in our society and I believe the benefits of this technology driven change vastly outweigh the negatives. Sure there are some things we won’t be doing anymore. We’ll miss them (I won’t). But there’s so much more I can do and will do because of technology and I am so much richer for it.