In the ever-evolving landscape of technological advancement, we find ourselves in an era where common people no longer need to grasp the intricate workings of the latest technological marvels. There was once a time when having a basic understanding of how a car, plane, or even electricity functioned was a reasonable expectation. Yet, as we navigate the digital age, we are surrounded by and increasingly reliant on technology so advanced that we often take its wonders for granted. The once-impressive feats of science fiction have become the everyday reality of our lives. Remember the awe-inspiring scenes in the movie “Minority Report,” released in 2002 but set in 2054, where pre-crime officers manipulated computer screens with their hands? Today, we can all perform similar feats with the devices we carry in our pockets—our smartphones.
However, amidst the marvels of modern technology, there are still moments that continue to amaze and bewilder. One such moment occurs when I experience the seemingly magical connection between my iPhone and my car. Picture this: I open the car door, settle into the driver’s seat, fasten my seatbelt, press the ignition button, and behold the arrival of the Bluetooth Fairy. Like a digital sorceress, it materializes, and the music stored on my phone, safely tucked away in my pocket, begins to play through the car’s stereo. It’s as if I’m witnessing a conjuration of sorts, a seamless merging of technology and convenience that never ceases to enchant me.
In some instances, this technological wonder even goes a step further by picking up precisely where a song left off during my last drive. It’s a peculiar sensation—a musical déjà vu if you will. Imagine listening to “Gimme Shelter,” stepping out of your car midway through the song, and then returning to hear Mick Jagger’s fervent cry, “MURDER, IT’S JUST A SHOT AWAY!” once more. It’s odd, yet it’s a small delight that I’ve come to appreciate.
However, not every encounter with technology leaves me in a state of awe. Occasionally, I find myself longing to perform a digital séance or perhaps an exorcism. These are the moments when I initiate the pairing process with my car, expecting to revel in curated playlists or dive into my favorite podcasts, only to find myself ensnared by U2’s “Songs of Innocence,” the relentless neoliberal virus that has plagued my iPhone’s central nervous system since 2014.
Picture the scenario: I’m all set to groove to Pusha T or immerse myself in the thought-provoking discussions of “Still Processing.” Instead, Bono materializes like a spectral Irish pirate, his voice reverberating through my car’s speakers as he proclaims, “YOU’RE GONNA SLEEP LIKE A BABY TONIGHT!” It’s an unsettling experience. No, Bono, I will not sleep like a baby tonight. I will not sleep at all, knowing there are goateed billionaire specters lurking within the confines of my phone. In fact, labeling this experience as a mere “haunting” falls short because ghosts can be characterized by their varied dispositions—some are sleepy like Bruce Willis in “The Sixth Sense,” others are friendly like Casper, and some are vengeful and seductive like Patrick Swayze in “Ghost.” No, this album is not like a ghost; it’s more akin to a relentless infestation—an unwelcome roach that scurries into my ears with each depraved chorus.
The torment would be somewhat bearable if the album were actually good. Regrettably, each track sounds like elevator music to Hell. Not the fiery, brimstone Hell of the Old Testament, but a soul-draining damnation reminiscent of an endless networking happy hour. It’s as if the album were an eternal invitation to a corporate soiree where the agenda includes mundane chitchat and watered-down craft beer. (“Don’t forget to bring your business cards for 40 percent off craft beer from 6 p.m. until ETERNITY!”) This album is the auditory equivalent of a drink ticket for Zima—a relic of an era long past. It’s like misspelled name tags hanging from lanyards, each one symbolizing a futile attempt at networking. In truth, it should have been christened “Convertible Porsche” rather than “Songs of Innocence” because it often feels like the soundtrack to a wealthy midlife crisis—a conspicuous display of opulence masquerading as introspection.
At one point, I held onto the naive belief that ridding my phone of this shameless paean to late-stage capitalism would be as simple as waiting for a new phone. “I’ll just wait until I get a new phone. That should take care of it,” I reassured myself, foolishly, on multiple occasions in 2014. Since then, I’ve cycled through approximately 423 iPhones, each upgrade accompanied by the loss of cherished photos, videos, passwords, text messages, and phone numbers. Yet, the album endures, always returning when I least expect it. It’s a relentless revenant, and there’s no discernible pattern to its reappearances. Sometimes it lies dormant for weeks, even months, allowing me to enjoy my music in peace. Then, just when I’ve lowered my guard, it awakens, wielding its haunting melodies like a weapon.
To be perfectly honest, I’m now hesitant to delete it. At least in its current state, I know where it resides and how it haunts. I can attempt to contain it, to study its patterns, and learn how it feeds and breeds within the digital confines of my phone. However, should I banish it from my phone, what’s to prevent it from infecting my other devices? Could it infiltrate my watch, my TV, or even my toaster, haunting me with every piece of toast, screaming, “EVERY SAILOR KNOWS THAT THE SEA IS A FRIEND-MADE ENEMY!”?
As Verbal Kint once pondered, “How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss?”