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The unknown culture of music shaming
Imagine what life would be like if we all had the same taste in music, listened to the same songs, or never cared to hear something different. Why then does the practice of shaming and judging others for their unique taste in music happen? Conversely, why do people sometimes feel judged and embarrassed for listening to songs other than the those on the “top hits” list?
In an article written by Kristin Charier of Odyssey Online, the essence of music was characterized as being wholly individual. “Everyone has, at some point in their lives, listened to a song or an album that made them feel something, forming a connection far deeper than just words alone,” she said. “Music is powerful, and it’s also personal. [It] is a huge part of our lives, and it says a lot about who we are.”
With music serving a different purpose for everyone and often having significant personal meaning to the listener, I asked Principia College students who self-identified as having a unique music taste a few questions to see what their thoughts were on the prevalence of music shaming.
Junior Timon Keller enjoys a wide variety of uncommon, metal music. “Particularly the more extreme subgenres of metal, such as thrash, doom, black, and death metal,” he said. Keller feels the heavy metal genre and the community of people who enjoy the music have always been there for him.
“Sometimes it is hard to articulate your feelings, but it seems like there is always a band or a song that can do it for you. Metal has helped me understand myself and my own feelings better, and in turn it has helped me to be a deeper thinker,” Keller said.
When asked if he ever felt shamed by others for his taste of music, he said, “Sometimes people are jerks about it, but people can be jerks about everything. So for the most part it should just be ignored.”
Junior Garrett Johnson enjoys a similar genre to Keller: atmospheric black metal. For Johnson, his music taste has a deeply rooted meaning that goes beyond simple melodic and harmonic tones. ”This type of music really tries to get the listener to think inward and self reflect,” he said. “With the music being the way it is, it helps myself and others who have had hardships throughout their life identify their sorrow in musical form.”
Johnson believes that the modern form of music that finds its way to the top of the charts is a facade of emotion. “Today’s modern music all seems to convey a positive message that relies on forgetting the difficult and sad past events of our lives,” he said. “I find it much more valuable to reflect on them, learn from them, confront them head on, and own them.”
Unfortunately for Johnson and Keller, they have found that the millennial culture of judging people based on their music choice often suppresses individuals from sharing their unique music tastes and the meaning behind it with others.
“I tend to refrain from telling new people I meet I like this music because people haven’t generally been accepting and open when I have tried,” Johnson said.
Senior Brandon Lesky said he uses headphones to try and hide his Punk Rock music in fear of being looked at in an odd manner. “There was a time when people would tell me that my music was awful or that I need to listen to good music for a change,” he said. Like Keller, Lesky has, “learned to ignore it.”
Junior Esteban Rojas Acuña explained that there have been cases in which others have shamed him for his taste in techno music, but that he doesn’t pay attention “to those who don’t look beyond their own culture.”
Instead, he chooses to focus on what techno means to him without taking in the opinions of others. “[Techno] changed my life, my way of thinking,” he said. “It made me open my eyes to a better world where music is shared with better intentions than making money.”
Freshmen Skylyr Cieply, who enjoys Avant Garde Jazz, said, “I definitely have felt uncomfortable sharing my music taste with people sometimes, usually because they don’t get the appeal of whatever genre it happens to be.”
Junior Sapphire Johnston, a classic rock fan, also revealed that others judged her music choice. “Sometimes, people say classic rock is not cool or that people who listen to it are too shocking.”
The practice of music shaming evident among most young adults is an issue that tends to be swept under the rug. But is this how we, as a society, want or even intend to make others feel about something as personal as their music choice? People have failed to recognize the repercussions. As part of a highly unique student body, diversity is something to be desired and embraced by all. This diversity starts as small as the differences in music taste of those around us.