We’re lucky to live in a time where there’s constant innovation and creation. There’s always something new to discover: new music, new products, new ideas. But can that newness cross the threshold from exciting, to tiring? Is there such a thing as too much newness?
I thought of this the other day as I listened to a mash-up playlist on SoundCloud. I heard a track called “Top of the Pops 2014,” which is a mix of the top pop songs that came out in 2014. Then the playlist segued to another artist’s “top of 2014″ list. Then another “top of 2014″ track came on. And then a “top of 2013″ track, followed by 3 other artists’ versions. Etc, etc, etc.
As the playlist took me back through years of “top” music, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. So many forgotten songs came back to my consciousness, some loved and some hated. And I started thinking about the cycle that turns some new things into long-treasured favorites, and pushes other new things into the withered darkness of “forgotten-ness.”
We certainly have more new, more often than in any other generation. Partly due to human productivity, and partly because we have media to spread the news far and wide, in a matter of seconds. Sometimes I wonder if there is a limit to the amount of “newness” we can handle. You know how too many choices causes mental overload? Perhaps for newness, it’s a sort of fatigue that comes with having to process so many inputs on a regular basis.
We often use the phrase “quality over quantity.” Could this be true for human production, too? Is there a tipping point where continuous newness is a burden for society rather than a benefit? I wonder if we’d be happier with fewer things, longer, than a bigger quantity of things we like.
I’m not going to stop listening to those yearly compilations. But I think I’ll stop listening to so many in a row. There’s something about that continuous stream of little bits of songs that felt stressful, and turned a fun trip down memory lane into a mental trek.