Why the Music I Listen to, Shows I Watch, and Books I Read are Not Indicative of My Taste

In an age of countless Spotify breakdowns of your top artists and songs, or Netflix algorithms that only consider your viewing history, we seem to live in a world where one’s cultural palate is increasingly defined by the media they consume. If you’re anything like me, you see this equation completely misses the mark on defining who I am. The songs I listen to, shows I watch, and books I read are not in any way indicative of my taste.


One area where the marriage between consumption practices and taste profile has gone completely off the rails is music. It seems everyone has become obsessed with sharing the songs they “have on repeat” or the artist they “listened to for 45 hours this year” as if that has anything to do with one’s likes and dislikes.


For instance, Taylor Swift may be my top artist of the last six months, but I don’t like Taylor Swift. Go ahead and look at my tweets! I just have to listen to all of Fearless over and over again every few months so that I remember why I dislike her so much. And sure, when I listen to “Forever and Always” it makes me feel “good” and I “sing along” and “experience a cathartic release,” but it isn’t my taste. Also, I’m listening to it as a joke.


Ultimately, my music taste is not an amalgamation of the things I listen to; it’s an amalgamation of the things I say I like. So who are my real top artists? I don’t know, ever heard of Björk? I have. I haven’t listened to her yet, but I know it will be huge for me when I do.


And the same goes for my watching and reading history. Am I a reality television fan? No, it’s just not for me. Have I watched Love Island, Love is Blind, three seasons of The Bachelor, half of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and every episode of Top Chef Junior? Legally, yes, but only for reasons beyond my control, like my roommate was watching it, or it was on Hulu so I got a Hulu subscription.



Similarly, I read those four Dan Brown novels as research for a project that I’m just not quite ready to speak about publicly because it doesn’t exist.


So as you can see, the gap between the art I rabidly consume and my personal taste is vast. It’s not cognitive dissonance, it’s just self-knowledge. Now I’m off to finally start The Wire, which I know is going to be great because it’s already my favorite show!