In which country music builds illusory worlds, postcards are written and the act of defecation is praised on the most high.
Like many country songs, Miranda Lambert’s “Automatic” draws upon a fantasy of a rural, homey, uncomplicated America. With its steady eighth note strumming, triadic harmony, lack of syncopation and diatonic melody, the music isn’t asking much of the listener – and why should it? It’s a song about the beauty of simplicity. While I love country music, much of the world it builds is filled with things I wouldn’t enjoy in real life (Budweiser, football, being heterosexual, etc). But for all the trepidation I may have about some aspects of this world, I do appreciate one aspect very much: its regard for single-tasking. Country music is so often about doing something simple and really appreciating it in that moment – something I and so many around me struggle with.
As I recently read in her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, Sherry Turkle suggests that technology has moved the world away from dedicated single-tasking and toward continuous multi-tasking. When you’re writing an email, how often are you really just writing an email? I’m betting that you’re usually writing an email while checking your recent Facebook friend requests while taking a Buzzfeed quiz about which character from Stranger Things you are while watching a video of a kitten eating an entire Jamaican village single handed. People can’t even do simple tasks like pooping without doing something else on their phones, preventing them from really appreciating a good, firm poop – one of life’s greatest wonders.
To be fair, I suspect that technology has, overall, made the world better than it has worse, encouraging medical advancements and the exchange of progressive ideas. But in this one particular way, I worry that technology has hijacked my life. I suspect that this is why I love reading books and handwriting letters so much – I cannot really do anything else when I do these things, so all my attention is focused on the task at hand. As a small ocean of recipients can attest, I absolutely love to send postcards, and on a recent cross-country road trip, I sent out exactly twenty of them. Why bother when I could text or Snapchat or Instagram or use some other social media I’m not hip enough to know? Because receiving a postcard means someone sat down and said “This person matters so much that I will do just this for them” – and as Miranda Lambert says, it’s only worth as much as the time put in.
With all due respect,
P.S. A good, firm poop really is one of life’s greatest wonders. True fact.