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Is it too easy to change musical tracks?

An incident with the car stereo today got me thinking. Tinkerbell asked for CD #5, Track 10 while we were waiting in the car for Jamie to return from the shops.

Cars, as far as I can recall, used to come with an AM radio with front speakers and that's it. Early models required you to manually tune the radio each time you wanted to change stations. Eventually someone came up with the idea of pre-sets so you could quickly change stations if you didn't like what was on.

But the car industry was very slow to adapt to user requirements. When I started driving, I remember the first thing I always did when I bought a second-hand car was rip out the AM stereo and put in a combined AM/FM stereo with a tape deck and run speakers to the back. A tape deck was vital, so you could put in your own music. This was a big leap forward, even if tapes don't make it easy to skip songs.

Fast forward to today and the car manufacturers get it. The base model Honda I bought comes with 4-speakers, a 6-stack CD player and an AM/FM radio with 18 pre-sets. The tape player is nowhere to be seen. Newer models have simple MP3 player integration. You can select whatever song you want, quickly and easily.

Our kids, who have only known this sort of luxury, are always requesting a specific song on a specific CD. If we listened to them we'd be skipping around our collection willy-nilly. If they don't like a song, it's skip ahead to the next one. Us oldies prefer to listen to a CD right through on a long trip.

Is it drawing too much of a long bow to wonder if this sort of convenience could be a bad thing. Will today's headphone generation1 never listen to something they don't immediately like? Will they never move out of their comfort zone and expand their tastes or listen to something that challenges them or makes them uncomfortable? Could it lead to a very narrow-minded view of the world? Or a segregation into groups of like-mindedness?

Then again, maybe it's just music.

1I am indebted to James Valentine for this term