Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Happened To Our Freedom Of Choice?

I knew that we were in trouble the day I went to the record store (oh, excuse me… I mean music or multi-media store, as it is called today) and I was told that I could no longer buy a record (which, at the time, was my format of choice) and I HAD to buy a CD. I personally love CDs now but, the rebel in me back then just didn't like being told what I HAD to do.

I started buying records as a child with my allowance money. Every Saturday, I got my $ 3.00 a week (don’t laugh, that was a lot of money back then) after doing my chores and headed straight for the neighborhood record store. (Remember those?) I was in the 6th grade when I bought my first two 45 rpms (Remember those?)… “I Want You Back” by the Jackson Five and “Psychedelic Shack” by the Temptations.

When I finished school and started working, the first thing I bought on lay-a-way (Remember that?) with my first couple of paychecks was a stereo system. I was making my own money so, I could then afford to buy full-length albums at will. It was nothing for me to drop $ 75.00 - $ 80.00 bi-weekly in a record store and come home with a bag full of albums and 12 inch singles. (Remember those?) Music was my passion so, from childhood to adulthood, I established quite an extensive record collection. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I was buying cassette tapes throughout these years too. For some reason, I never cared too much for 8-track tapes (Remember those?) so, I only bought about 4 of them when I was in junior high school and I couldn’t tell you whatever became of them.

So, there I was… standing in front of shelves and shelves of records in my house and calculating all of the money I had invested in them since the 6th grade and I was ANGRY! At the time, the fact that CDs sounded a lot better offered little comfort. I guess what bothered me most about the transition to CDs is the fact that I never quite understood why they had to do away with records. I argued that there was no reason why both formats couldn't co-exist at the same time so that individual consumers could "choose" which one they wanted to buy because it was their money.

Well, here we are years later and this scenario has repeated itself many times over with cassettes (audio and video), lazer discs (Did anybody buy those?), mini discs (although, I’ve heard that these sell like crazy over in the UK but, they just never caught on over here for some reason), and look out DVDs 'cause here come Blue Rays! So now, after I have invested much time and money replacing my records with CDs, it looks like they are on the verge of being replaced by MP3s and downloaded music. (I do have an MP3 player.) At this point, I guess I don’t have to tell you that I feel like somebody owes me some money and I’m about ready to kill that somebody!

Then, there’s all the different changes over the past 20-25 years in the equipment that you need to stay current, just so you can play your music. I remember when guys, in particular, took great pride in building their stereo systems piece by piece. Girls usually bought something called "component sets" (Remember those?), which were much like the all-in-one type systems they sell today... and, I must admit, they do sound much better now. But, trust me... if you were a guy back in the day, you wouldn't want to be caught dead with one of those systems-lol! (Remember?) However, I did understand at the time that, in most cases, girls preferred component sets because they were less complicated and more affordable. Somtimes, guys "went for broke" trying to build their stereo systems but, we felt we had a standard to maintain when it came to the "sound" of our music.

Even radio has changed. Now, there’s satellite radio... which is great but, I'm still trying to decide if I like not knowing the name of the song and artist that is playing because, at times, they are no DJs. And, in 2009, TV as we know it will change forever. The worst case scenario... some people will have to go out (if they haven't already) and get themselves a converter or their TV will become a worthless box, just taking up space. In most cases, the people who have TVs that will need a converter were not warned about this conversion when they bought it but, who cares about that, right? And, while we're on the subject of TVs, who decided that I need to hang it on the wall? Maybe I do... maybe I don't... but, I want to make that decision. (One day, I know that I'll probably wind up getting one of these too.)

I deliberately tried to be humorous and have some fun with this post but, seriously, I am beginning to feel frustrated with all of this because the “powers that be” forgot to factor in one little thing regarding all these advances in technology. The average person’s paycheck is NOT keeping up with all of these changes so, they might just outsmart themselves because I predict that some of this stuff is going to start sitting on store shelves collecting dust very soon. Once upon a time, you only had to buy something if you never had it to begin with and you only needed to replace something when you lost it or it stopped working. (Remember those days?) Apparently, somebody decided that forcing consumers into "repetative buying" was the better way to go.

You might find this hard to believe but, I felt that we were destined for a collapse in our economy just from all of the changes in technology alone... and, long before we were hit with this economic crisis caused by the Bush administration. If people aren’t working and getting paid enough money to buy all of these new things, they can invent whatever they want but, there will come a time when no one will be able to buy it. As the current economic crisis looms over us and most people are watching their pennies more than ever before and making conscious decisions to spend only when needed, I often think back to how I felt when I was standing in the music store and could no longer buy a record.

We have all kinds of people in the world who need to feel included… young, old, rich, strugglin', poor, etc. This also means that there are a lot of different "comfort zones" out there that need to be considered and respected. The “powers that be” have quietly eliminated our freedom to choose what is best for ourselves as individuals and we are literally being “told” and “forced” into just about everything now. I'm still trying to figure out why my cell phone really needs to take pictures if I'm also expected to buy a digital camera? (Yes, I have these too.) I actually saw a commercial on TV the other night for some type of phone that can track the location of all the contacts in the phone. Now, that is down right scary! Maybe I don't want you to know where I am! My life experience tells me that such an existence is in fact a “dictatorship” so, I feel that our so-called “freedom” is being threatened more and more with each passing day (and, I don’t necessarily mean by terrorists).

The advances in technology regarding music and its equipment is just one simple scenario that I’m using to paint a larger picture. Just think… if all of the different formats of music were still out there and you only had $ 3.00 to spend on music after paying all of your bills and getting other necessities, wouldn’t it be nice to at least have the option of going to the music store and getting a record, if that’s all you could afford? Not to mention, some of the music that is being released today is only worth the $ 3.00 you would pay for a record. And, if God blessed you to reach the ripe old age of 80 years, why should you be forced to learn how to download music and/or use an MP3 player? Let them enjoy their remaining years playing records, tapes, or whatever floats their boat... they've earned it! My mother-in-law still has records that are 78's (And, believe me, I'll understand if you don't remember those!) and hasn't been able to play them for years because that speed was eliminated from turntables a long time ago and now, turntables themselves are practically extinct. I've heard that there are still a few die-hard DJs who continue to use them for "scratching". (Remember that?)

Don't get me wrong... advances in technology are great and that is exactly what we are supposed to do... ADVANCE (unlike the image you see above that I used strictly for comic relief). I am in no way suggesting that we live in the past or stand still and not progress. However, I do want to go back to the days when "I" decide what I need based on who I am, what I like, and what I can afford. I don't feel that anyone has the right to make-up my mind for me when I'm spending my hard-earned money. Some of the things that are being replaced now days are being "eliminated" unnecessarily because of nothing more than just plain ol' GREED. Well, when they start paying me more money to afford these new things or offering refunds for what they deem as being "obsolete" (Don'tcha just hate that word?), then they can tell me what to buy!


Anonymous said...

I might have to agree....

CurvyGurl said...

Good point, Keith. I knew we were headed for economic trouble with the shady real estate stuff (way before the bottom fell out), but I think you're on to something here. Hadn't even considered tech as a factor.

ZACK said...

I don't remember ANYTHING you are talking about. I was born in '84- about the time when CDs were the "New Kid On The Block". :)

Still a great, nostalgic post. My family used cassettes until '94. Before then, we only used a record player in the house for special recordings (like the gospel ones).

Now CDs are falling behind to the power of I-Tunes. But what's going to be next? Implanting a song chip in your head? (I better not talk too soon)

twin2blog said...

I know I'm getting old because I remember all of those formats.

Corey said...

Hello Keith! I'm a fan of your blog, but haven't visited since forever, but I am sooo relating to this post. I'm angry that I invested so much into a VHS collection - some of which I absolutely REFUSE to part with. But listen up...just today I went around the corner to my neighborhood (used)record shop and bought original albums The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, Brick, and Bobby Blue Bland (Okay, so I have eclectic tastes). Then, I brought them home to play them on ....of turntable. I'm a record collector from way back. I still have my original collection, my aunts, my father's, my uncles, and EVERYONE is dying to get their grubby hands on them. And die they might! Don't give them up! Don't sell them! Don't throw them away! Oh........and from time to time, I go to the local antique dealers and buy 78's that I play on my tabletop record player or my wind-up VICTROLA! It's what collectors do! Your freedom is choice? It's still yours! Exercise it! Find out WHERE to go! Try Ebay! Yes, I listen to today's music, too. I love John Legend and Beyonce's Single Ladies is my JAM! You don't have to change because the times change. Buy your records. All kinds of 'em. There still out there! So are the record players! Just make sure you find a reputable source for needles!

Keith said...

@Zack-lololol- That's what's coming next, they're going to put a
chip in our tooth to play music.-lol

James Perkins said...

Good Post Brother, I feel you.

Simon Bastion said...

Great Post..I remember all of these formats too.

Tate2 said...

I was born in 1979...So a lot of that stuff was already going when I got of age to collect music, but I remember records and cassettes..
I do however know how you feel..I have a huge CD collection and now they are about to fade out in favor of i-tunes.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

I feel you brother...I have a huge record and CD collection myself.

Lisa said... guys are old-lolololol.
Just kidding, great post Keith and you are on to something there, not just in the tech world, but in all aspects of our lives.

Toni said...

Hey Keith, Great Post as usual..You made some very valid points..I was born in 1981, so I'm like Zack...a CD baby.

Angie B. said...

I feel you...I have a huge CD collection myself and now everybody is downloading.

Sunflower said...

You are having a great week of posts Keith...I love this always makes me think.

Halo said...

Wow..Sunflower said what I was gonna say.-lololol

Vanessa said...

Hey Keith..I'm glad somebody wrote about this...because I have been feeling the sameway for a long time and not just about Tech.

Anonymous said...

If John McCain had of been elected President, this wouldn't have happened.-lololololololol

Blu Jewel said...

I'm all for technology and such, but there are still some tried and true things that are so much better than what's considered new.

I won't; however, give up my iPod for a portable CD player for anything in the!

Great and informative post.


12kyle said...

awwwww man!!! you took me back with this post!!!

i would love to buy some records but what can i play them on?? lmao

i like cds, tho. i just copped a ipod last month. this is my first one. guess i'm a lil behind

i remember 8 tracks, cassette tapes, and the records (33 inch and 45 inch)

Strongblkwmn said...

Another good one! It made me feel like going to get my old cassettes out of storage. LOL! My husband's pissed because I refuse to throw them away.

Opinionated Diva said...

Rotary phones...remember those?! lol

I work in technology, but even I have to admit that a lot of these changes are more about making money for the "powers that be" and less about the changing times.

Anonymous said...

I only remember cassette tapes. I loved buying just the single and playing it over and over. I do remember my parents having a clostet full of albums.

Mizrepresent said...

It is something about dusting off that old album and putting on the player that brings back memories and times, like they were never lost. I remember a time at my brothers house, a New Years Eve, he still had a record player and all of his old records, boy let me tell you, we had the time of our life. My babygirl confiscated all of my mom's record collection and let me tell you it is extensive, then went and got her a record player that transfers from the record to cd's...i've playing that joint every since, ain't nothing like it Keith, and i am so glad i have had the pleasure of passing this on to my children. Long live the vinyl!

LadyLee said...

You talking about "Stereo systems". I remember when they were called "component sets". LOL
I remember the 78s, and the 45s. Those were the days.

Man, we are living in a hedonistic society. Enough said. And GPS is the devil!! I too don't want people to know where I am! You realize the fallout behind all that? Folks are going to be stalking people.

A Go Bytch said...

I've always wanted a record player..*sighs* I guess because I didn't experience it much being born in the 80's by the time I learned that I wasn't suppose to chew on those they had already phased out. Although it would be nice to keep all the old stuff for the old folks.. the world is more like we are moving on up...move up or get left behind.

Humph...good post!

Go B.


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