Why Can't I Touch It?

Before anyone asks, the title comes from the Buzzcocks song of the same name.

That being said, the lyrics are oddly on point with, well, my point.

“It looks so real, I can see it / And it feels so real, I can feel it / And it tastes so real, I can taste it / And it sounds so real, I can hear it / So why can't I touch it?”

When the pandemic happened, initially it was “I can order anything, talk to anyone, listen to everything, and watch literally endless entertainment, and never leave the house!” The upside of the pandemic is that it gave us a huge propulsion forward into a new digital future.

But you know what none of those things gave us? Physical interaction. Think about it this way; is a zoom the same as talking to someone in person? If you answered yes, I don’t trust you, and stop reading.

For those of you still here, let’s continue. It’s not the same, clearly. That’s why “post” pandemic we flocked to travel, concerts, dining, etc. All things where you have to interact with other people in service of an experience. We’ve been starving for this, and the signs are there.

Music is the radioactive super canary in the coal mine. Concert sales are through the roof and vinyl sales have not only come back from the brink, but have surpassed CD sales for the first time since these things were tracked. This is in spite of a lot of people not owning record players. 

We need the physical because we are physical beings. It’s not a complete experience without it.

So how do we share music in a digital era? This is a question I became obsessed with. Texting a song delivers the music, which creates awareness, but not memory. That’s why if you want to remember something, you should write it down. It’s the physical act that does it. So how do you make digital music physical?

I fucking loved burning CDs. I made and received so many CDs that I’m still finding them in boxes and drawers. But let’s be honest, CDs as a physical format suck. Cassettes, however, have always been cool. As a little kid they were some of my most prized possessions, and more importantly, memories. I vividly remember 7 year old me waiting by the radio when my cousin was visiting from France so that we could record Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” when it came on. They’re just a cooler, more satisfying physical format to hold.

But we run into the same issue as vinyl; most of us don’t have a way to play them. Even if we do, we’re still turning to streaming most of the time. So rather than put the genie back in the bottle, what if we put it into the cassette?

And that’s Post Tape. We embed the virtues of streaming into a physical form you already know that you can give, receive, and collect. And it’s because you have to make them intentionally that gives a Post Tape meaning. Sure, you’re sharing a playlist, but what you’re really sharing are thoughts, intent, sentiment, and memory. 

Whether you find it in a drawer months or years later, or have a display of Post Tapes for friends to peruse when they come over, Post Tapes are a physical embodiment of what that music means to you, and creates a memory you can return to even after the last song plays.

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