News of the backlash against U2’s Songs of Innocence has reached the North Pole. Santa Claus today has released a statement:
There was a time when people enjoyed having an old guy sneak into their house and give them free stuff. As my good friends Paul [Hewson] and Tim [Cook] have seen, that time has passed. So I am warning anyone who decides to use the “remove Songs of Innocence” tool. I wanted to announce that I will also be removing your name from my list of annual visits. Thank you.
We Were Young, Not Dumb
I like U2, although their last couple of albums have been a long downhill slide and it’s unlikely that I would have purchased this one. So in one sense, I’m okay with Apple buying the new album and giving it to me gratis.
And I suspect that for a lot of people the album itself isn’t the problem. As one of my friends put it:
…for me, it’s a weird boundary issue. Like, I’m fine with someone sending me a free CD in the mail, I’m less fine with a CD randomly appearing on my coffee table while I’m at work.
None of us like reminders that our devices are only “ours” on the surface. We try not to acknowledge that Apple1 reigns supreme on the device. We like the illusion of security and privacy, and anything that erodes that illusion creeps us out.
For others, of course, the album is the problem. I trust Apple to allow me to buy whatever music, books, movies, and apps I want without censorship or oversight2. I want them to keep my music library safe, and keep it mine. I don’t want them dictating what constitutes “good music” to me. I like U2, so I’m not bothered by this particular album. But if Apple had shoved a John Meyer or Beyoncé or (more plausibly) Dr. Dré album into my iTunes library I would have been incensed.
So, Bono Claus, if you’re reading this3: next time you want to give us something for free please just knock instead of coming down the chimney.