Audience Of One

by Zoë Pollock

Jen Paton considers what it means that Bradley Manning allegedly collected the Wikileaks data while rocking out to Lady Gaga:

[The seduction of audio is that it] represents a sort of personal branding of oneself to oneself: nobody knows what’s going on behind your ear buds – whether its Gaga or Genesis, NPR or Rush Limbaugh, you are performing yourself to yourself for yourself only.  That way the mask perhaps need never come off, one never need “be alone” with one’s thoughts.

There is some heady hubris that comes from setting your life to music: banal moments acquire emotional heft, and one’s dash to get a sandwich at lunch acquires some extra swagger. It’s a feeling most of us, in the past, could’ve only enjoyed in a clearly public space – the club – or a clearly private one – the car, your living room. Taking that purely private pleasure in public, but in secret, is a relatively new thing.