Turns out the Internet hasn't killed the radio star ... not yet, anyway

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comApril 10, 2013 

I was in my car when the feeling briefly overtook me.

It was familiar, but I was all but certain I was incapable of experiencing this kind of short-lived, simplistic euphoria, comparing it, in my mind, to when the mere mention of ice cream would make me go bananas or when the words "Pizza Night" brought me more happiness than just about anything else in the world.

It's undeniable that some things just feel less special or cool as you age, and I had begun to consider this feeling to be one of those things -- I got excited by a song on the radio.

It was The 1975's "Chocolate," an infectiously catchy song despite its indecipherable lyrics, and it had gone into heavy rotation on my iPod when I first heard it a month or so ago.

I heard the first few chords, pumped my fist and shouted "Yes!" to no one in particular.

Needless to say I was caught off-guard, in large part because I figured these kinds of moments were victims of this age of on-demand media when we never accidentally hear anything. Instead hand-crafted playlists and mix CDs almost exclusively blare from the speakers of our cars and stereos.

And I'm hardly a technophobe.

My cell phone is almost always close at hand; I haven't missed a Philadelphia Eagles or Indiana University football or basketball game in years thanks to satellite television; and, with the click of a mouse, I can stream millions of songs from services such as Spotify or Rdio.

And those are just the relatively trivial, leisure-based ways technology has made our lives easier.

Hundreds of medical advances would not be possible without developing technologies. In addition to helping us find restaurants and hotels in foreign places, GPS devices help firefighters and policemen more easily and quickly respond to emergencies.

Troops stationed overseas and others who find themselves far from home can use services like Skype and FaceTime to communicate with loved ones in ways that once seemed only possible in science fiction novels or in demonstrations at EPCOT.

Technology has benefited our society in ways big and small, but that doesn't mean it hasn't also robbed of us moments that, at one time or another, were regarded as sacrosanct.

I can read the New York Times Magazine, an important cultural resource sold in print on Sunday, on Wednesday on my iPad if I choose. I understand the digital publishing concept of making content available to readers once it's cleared the editing and fact-checking process, but I would prefer not to see any of the magazine's content until its preordained day of publication.

And that's not the only example of how technology has seized from us occasions once seen as irreplaceable and a fundamental part of the human experience.

Few of us rush to the record store anymore to pick up that eagerly awaited new album from our favorite band, spending the remainder of that day listening to it on a loop, thumbing through the liner notes and trying to decipher what message the band possibly could be trying to send through the cover art.

Finishing a book feels like less of an accomplishment when it's done with a swipe of your finger and not the satisfying turn of that final page and the gentle thud of the back cover against that stack of pages.

Our inability to get ahold of friends and loved ones in a moment's notice immediately triggers panic because, after all, no one goes anywhere without their cellphones.

I'm hardly the person to decry technology as having somehow ruined all of life's great moments, but it's important to remember that nothing we gain through technology comes without sacrifice to some experience we may one day find ourselves longing for.

Even if it's something as simple as hearing a song you love on the radio.

This week, a playlist of eight songs dedicated to technology, all of its wonder, its conveniences and sometimes its inconveniences.

You want to know the one truly great thing about technology? Being able to book a dinner reservation online. Thank you, OpenTable.

  • Grizzly Bear, "Easier" -- Making our lives easier is, in some ways, what technology has become about. For better or worse.

  • Lana Del Rey, "Video Games" -- Hard to fathom, but there is a generation of adult men, fathers even, for whom video games have been a constant part of life, not merely a novel innovation.

  • The Strokes, "The Modern Age" -- It isn't all that bad. I mean, we can fast-forward through commercials.

  • The Whigs, "Technology" -- A cultural obsession.

  • M.I.A., "Internet Connection" -- Want to see social anarchy? Take down the Internet for 15 minutes.

  • Daft Punk, "Technologic" -- Is there such a thing?

  • The Buggles, "Video Killed the Radio Star" -- You had to have seen this coming.

  • Gnarls Barkley, "Online" -- The de facto state for many of us these days.

  • Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

    MORE BY PATRICK DONOHUE

    "Is civilized debate dead in America?"

    "What's so great about dogs? No really ... what?"

    "Rich man's problem: Having so many choices makes us very indecisive, indeed"

    The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

    Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service