“We’re still connected, but are we even friends?”

Image lifted from Pitchfork

Image lifted from Pitchfork

You know how there are some songs that you feel, rather than hear? Songs with lyrics that reach down into you and lodge somewhere between your gut and your heart? (Metaphorically. Not in, like, your lungs.)

There are not many, but there are some.

Pretty much anything by Bruce Springsteen does that to me. I know I’ve had too much to drink when I start telling my friends repeatedly that I feel like Bruce really knows me and that even though I’m not spiritual, I believe we’re connected in some way and even though I don’t believe in soul mates, I feel like he might be mine.

But I’m willing to put Springsteen aside for a moment after listening to the new Arcade Fire song, Reflektor, about one million times.

Click on that link and you’ll be taken to a site that gives various interpretations of the song’s lyrics. You’ll see that there are numerous themes and threads and tropes and plays on words in this insanely clever song. But the one interpretation of the lyrics that always gets me is the anti-internet, anti-social-media message, which is something like this:

This whole internet, the alternate reality that we plug into every single day, just reflects ourselves back at us. There’s no meaning. There’s no real connection. There’s no depth. It’s supposed to be the tool that keeps our relationships going, that elevates our communication and serves the world to us on our bright screens, but it leaves us feeling alone and flat and impotent.

There’s a lot of other stuff in there about disco music (disco balls being pretty excellent reflectors themselves), and references to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but it’s this message that compels me to keep pushing the Play triangle. I’ve been having these Luddite thoughts for a while now, feeling like I want to break free – from Twitter’s various loudspeakers and blowing of trumpets and smoke up asses, from Facebook’s reams of odd invitations and asinine notifications, from other people’s virtual pinboards and the frenetic scramble to read all the right articles before it’s too late. But where would I be without all of these platforms? I don’t know how to be an adult without spending 8 hours a day staring at a screen, continuously flicking my eyes over the things other people – strangers, mostly – throw out in real-time from behind their own screens.

If this message doesn’t resonate with you, you have to at least appreciate the irony that, for one version of the video, Arcade Fire have once again done an amazing virtual reality thing with Google that I don’t really understand but of which I am in awe. Read this Atlantic article that’s *neeeeearly* as smart as the song itself about the subversion in this move.

The sound’s pretty magic and multilayered, too, and features David frikken Bowie.

So listen to the song if you haven’t already, for god’s sake. Then listen to it again, and tell me you’re unmoved. Tell me it’s not the most edgy, deep, dauntingly and hauntingly perceptive thing you’ve heard in a long time.

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