Struggling to queue

Remember when we non-coding Americans all learned the word “queue” simultaneously because of Netflix? 

Every time I see the word, I know what it says, but my brain goes:


Anyway, this is just to say that I struggle to queue. Not in the British sense; I’m very good at standing obediently in line. But when it comes to queueing up entertainment, whether it be on Netflix or Spotify or wherever, I think I’m doing it wrong. 

Take Spotify: Now, I don’t listen to music all the time. But when I do, it’s often with this frantic thirst: I’m in A MOOD, and I need this mood to be mirrored back to me. Or I’ve decided that I need to become more familiar with the best Americana tracks of the last 50 years and I need to load up the queue to study. I plan ahead for hours and hours of whatever it is that I want right now, as though I’ll be in this mood forever. 

A recent example: Ian mentioned Radiohead. Now I must listen to every Radiohead song. Stat. Load it all up. It will take twelve hours? Fantastic.

Typically I listen for like a half an hour and then something else happens so I stop.

Next time I return it’s a different day in a different mood, and now all I want is the opposite. But Spotify insists on taking me back through the rest of the old one until I’m done.* It’s as though the program is insisting that I finish what I started, for God’s sake. Finish a thought, it seems to insist. 

But if the thought was “I need every bwaaaah-ing movie drama soundtrack to help roll me down the hill of finishing this boring work project,” and then I went away to take a call and then took a break and checked the internet and someone posted Lizzo’s tiny desk concert—well, now I need more of that. Don’t bwaaaah at me now, gross.

The point is, I’m more about the map than the territory, more about the menu than the food. The joy of setting up the queue is about the joy of cooking myself this elaborate feelings meal, not about the actual listening/eating of it, because the feeling will expire before I get to. And that’s fine. It’s the preparation, of looking out over the expanse of the future and going, “I will take care of this feeling.” That is the delight. 

Now, all that’s really happening here is my old friend scarcity popping up to say hello. One song might do, but I want to load up a hundred just to make sure I have some padding. 

I do this with Netflix downloads too before I travel,** making sure I have at least twice the flight length’s worth of shows saved on my iPad, and I also bring my Kindle and a paper book. What kind of horrible “Alive”-type emergency am I imagining will befall me? Will I really be allowed to read through it? Am I this afraid of boredom? 

But the occasional seven-hour flight delay, such as one I experienced last year, has worn this groove into my brain: sometimes you do need quite a lot of “Father Brown” downloaded to get you through circling Akron four times. 

*I know there is a way to make it stop doing this but I’m terribly inept at it.

**Remember traveling?

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