It’s been a hot topic all over the news sites and the Internet, and even on social media for the past several days that anyone with an Apple device who happen to use iTunes was given a “free gift” by Apple and Irish rock band U2: the Songs of Innocence album for free. The problem is that the album has apparently burrowed itself deep into the iCloud (you remember iCloud, right? That same place which got hacked a week before, causing celebrity nudes to be posted all over the Internet? THAT iCloud), and is now a part of everyone’s system and playlist for no reason. This is the music playlist equivalent of rape – meanwhile Apple reportedly paid $100 million to the band in order to shell this album out for free and U2 is bragging by saying it is the “biggest album launch ever.”
Does it count when you forced everyone to download the stupid thing, and also made it near-impossible for anyone to remove the album from their iTunes library? The worst part is the amount of free advertising U2 gets that is inadvertently caused by the influx of “how do I get this crappy album off of my phone” tweets and Facebook statuses. U2 have become their own form of the vampire strain, infecting technology.
People are infuriated. Forget Gaza. Forget ISIS. Forget EBOLA. Forget all of that. Hold the phone. Stop the presses. U2’s shitty music is interrupting all of our lives… (Except for the Android users who were fortunate that this fate did not befall them). I ask the Apple users “where is your God now?” Just days before U2 invaded your devices like Germany invaded Poland to kick off World War II, all of you were singing the praises of the almighty Apple Gods for the unveiling of the iPhone 6, the iWatch, and all the while doing the typical “our brand is superior” smugness that has come to be expected by Apple users, and surprisingly enough has gotten WORSE instead of BETTER since Apple went “mainstream.”
It’s not like there weren’t warnings. Satirical hit television show South Park warned you with TWO episodes:
The first one told you that the TERMS AND CONDITIONS you agree to might one day force you to end up part of the first-ever Human Cent-iPad, because you don’t know what you are agreeing to – and truth be told they are right – YOU SIGNED UP FOR THIS. Believe me, with all the money Apple has, they made absolutely sure to check the legalities of whether or not they have the right to force U2’s crappy album into your music library. And while it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and a bad sound in your ears, the problem is: You agreed to this.
The second episode I need to reference is an episode which revealed U2 frontman Bono, is, in fact, a piece of shit. And right now he’s laughing at all of you while claiming that when you support U2 you are saving the environment and feeding Africa (even though one has nothing to do with the other, Bono surely seems to think so). Still it’s not like we didn’t have warning about Bono. Bret Easton Ellis was ahead of the game when he authored American Psycho and included THIS snippet below:
That’s right, Satan is working with Apple. And if you want to get “religious conspiracy theorist” on the whole thing, what forbidden fruit did Eve eat? Oh yeah, an Apple. Apple and U2 are taking all of your souls straight to hell one iPod at a time, people.
It’s not that I don’t like Apple products (even though I don’t), but it’s the fact that most Apple users see the phone as a symbol of “status,” and have acted high and mighty about them for years. The pretentiousness of the whole thing, at least to me, is a turn-off, separate and apart from the fact Apple products just don’t impress me. I see it as “Apple products don’t offer anything above or beyond what my non-iPhone does so it’s not a big deal to me.” And now that I am sitting here, being able to select whatever I want to listen to in my Android device and not be plagued by having the choice being made FOR me, I’m the one who gets to be smug about it.
But I’m not writing this to be smug about U2 being colossal douchebags, or Apple openly trying to force U2 upon the masses. Believe it or not, Apple Users, I’m on your side, despite any jokes I make. I’m writing this because I realize as an Android user that yes, one day “it could happen to us.” The U2 album situation is a sign of a larger problem that doesn’t have anything to do with specifically U2 or specifically Apple, or any of that.
The problem that we have is that we have very limited choices and that takes power away from us, the consumers. Blackberry's operating system is no longer a player. Windows Phones aren't really relevant. It's down to 2 interfaces: Apple and Android. Competition is good. Choice is good. But just like everything else we've gone down to a system of 2s. Political parties (basically a 2 party system although their are other options), internet & cable (most places in the United States are limited to Comcast vs. AT&T), video game systems (usually Microsoft vs. Sony; Nintendo is practically a niche market now), and 2 isn't really a magic number; it often means choosing the lesser of two evils. This is because we've been trained not so support any other alternatives. We've been taught that there is "only one alternative" if you don't want or don't like something. "this or that," A or B. "As long as there isn't a monopoly," says everyone. But a Bi-opoly isn't really making anything better, either.
And when it comes to technology pretty much turned it all into a near-necessity to get anything accomplished in the world – paying bills, ordering food, navigating traffic – all of it has become automated. We’re glued to the Internet through our phones and devices, ALWAYS plugged in. Always posting on social media. How did “thot,” “bae,” “bruh” and all these other stupid phrases become “things?” Because someone used them on the Internet and OTHER stupid people started using them on the Internet, and stupidity spreads faster than enlightenment. Our TVs are now “Smart” TVs that are glued to the Internet. Yet, if you somehow acquired a copy of a film that isn’t authentic the “Smart TV” can decide to shut off the sound and prevent you from watching what you want to watch. Our video game consoles go online, and yet regardless of what you think about NFL player Ray Rice’s domestic violence situation with his wife, we just had Electronic Arts REMOVE Rice from John Madden Football AFTER THE FACT. Erased… from existence! Fading away like Marty McFly in Back to the Future.
I don’t remember my Nintendo games doing THAT. And if you don’t see the problem with that you’re not looking at the big picture, which is this:
Corporations now, at any time of their choosing can decide what we can and can’t listen to, what we can and can’t watch, what we should and should not play (or who we play as), and through the Internet, through the virtual space can now modify contents at will without your consent – Anything that is virtual, or connected, you don’t own it. It’s virtual. And if it’s virtual it can be modified at any time by somebody else who has money and the means to do so. It can be altered on a whim without any respect to you whatsoever. Books, videogames, music, movies. It’s not yours anymore. It’s THEIRS. And THEY can prevent you from accessing it at any time. Hell, even your money is probably stored virtually; I know I seldom ever carry actual cash on me. And despite how sci-fi or how farfetched it sounds, soon your thoughts and emotions may not even be yours anymore.
Didn’t Facebook recently conduct a behavioral study by forcing some people to only see “Sad” status updates and some people to only see “Happy” status updates without asking anyone’s consent before-hand? And didn’t that study have either a positive or negative effect on the human brain? Isn’t that a little… you know, DANGEROUS? What if someone got so depressed they had offed themselves? Believe it or not, when it comes to this thing we call “the Internet,” you’re not in control. Maybe those weird mountain people who live “off the grid” aren’t so crazy after all.
What I am saying is that if the extent of your outrage about the U2 album is “I have to listen to Bono’s stupid voice,” you’re getting upset for all the wrong reasons. Your concern should be the fact that with this decision, Apple and U2 have crossed a terrible threshold that if successful will cause more companies and bands, or even interest groups to follow suit. Your privacy? No longer your own. What you listen to can now be decided by people who are not you. And that’s a very disturbing sign if it is allowed to continue.
DISCLAIMER: I didn’t put that U2 music video there.