Positivity Wrapped In Shared Metrics

Spotify's Wrapped, Reddit's Recap, and others shine a fun light on social media sharing - the way it used to be.

Positivity Wrapped In Shared Metrics
I listened to a ton of K-Pop and I regret nothing.

Every year for the holidays, I feel like for the most part it’s a whirlwind of end-of-year work, family obligations, shopping and thinking about what to give to people, and overall trying not to run around like a madman, all while trying not to hear “Last Christmas” by WHAM. I barely succeeded last year on that last one, by the way - I heard the song a day after the deadline while in the store.

Anyway, with all those potential stressors, I try to find small pockets of fun and joy that I can curl myself up into a ball and fit into, as a way of sheltering, even for just a few minutes, from the insanity of the season. One of those pockets is through Spotify Wrapped, the annual summary of your Spotify listening habits, presented to you in pastel-colored glory through the app or the website. For my part, there aren’t a huge amount of surprises, at least for the top groups or genres I listen to. If you read my articles regularly, it’s no big revelation that my top group is K-Pop rock/pop girl group Dreamcatcher, and that I listen to a ton of that genre plus a few cool JRPG soundtracks. But I still enjoy watching my Wrapped unfold on the screen, showing me just how many minutes I spent and what songs I “accidentally” set on loop and may have sung to badly in the car.

What can I say, I like consistency.

Every year, my friends and I along with people I follow on social media, post tons of neon highlighted Wrapped reports, some telling people it’s exactly as expected, others trying to deny the fact that they listened to N’SYNC in the midst of a bunch of grunge rock and heavy metal, and yet others proudly declaring that those 100,000 minutes of Taylor Swift are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of celebrating her discography.

The curious thing that I found out about all of this sharing of Spotify stats (and of YouTube Music, who’s been getting into the metrics act lately, or any of the other stuff you see out there is that for the most part, it’s a pretty positive experience. Friends rib each other over the wildest things on their playlists and artists, recommendations get traded back and forth, and the little factoids that get spit out for Wrapped (like percentage you fall under for your top artist in terms of listenership) are worn like badges of honor.

I can explain that one non-Dreamcatcher song, really. The explanation is that DOXA is a banger. The end.

In an era of oversharing, people torching you for your opinions, beliefs, and other personal traits, and the one-upsmanship of algorithm-driven social media, why does Wrapped and its compatriots seem mostly immune to internet slap fights? I think there are several reasons.

One is that for the most part, seeing what people listen to (and subsequently sharing your own tastes) is a mostly harmless activity. While there are certainly exceptions out there, it seems generally agreed upon that you’ll see what someone is listening to, nod or give small side-eye or otherwise quickly react to it, and then move on. Seeing someone’s top artists or enormously high plays for BTS’s “Dynamite” isn’t likely to spark a huge argument, or a moral or ethical discussion, or a feel philosophical debate. It’s just a cool and funny factoid that you like one of the best K-Pop tracks of that year and that’s that. And even if you didn’t agree with the wild take I just said in the last sentence, I think you’d probably just counter with your own bevy of awesome music tracks, and that would be that. In general, music is one of those interesting bits of media that has the ability to transcend language barriers, belief systems, and other bits that have tended to separate us from others, especially in the last couple of years as things have in some places become more polarized. And while there are songs that do just that, I do think generally that people understand that your music listening habits are a small aspect of you, and are normally not some earth-shattering indictment of your identity.

I could probably just keep posting Dreamcatcher images and it’d be the same as if I posted images from my Wrapped.

That brings me to the other reason why I feel that Spotify Wrapped sharing is a mostly whimsical and fun activity online. It reminds me, honestly, of the early days of social media, when nobody was worried about whether or not they were hashtagging properly, if they had enough reach to get to their target audience, or how many likes or reposts they could get. People just threw out something they were doing or busy liking or otherwise wanted to tell people about, and in most cases they were treated as a bit of wonder that it was even possible to share things in that way. While sites like Stats for Spotify can play spoiler to this kind of metrics tracking, for the most part people treat Wrapped as a cool surprise they see at the end of the year to find out what they listened to the most, and in turn, treat the Wrapped metrics of their friends’ or those they follow on social media the same way. In the end, it’s very no strings attached.

I’m not naive - I know that you can’t put the genie back in the bottle and go back to those halcyon days when were fascinated by the fact that we could tell our 100 followers or so that we had some cool food, tweeted while we sat on the toilet, or shared an old forum meme that went far and wide. But I do think that for just a couple days, we can just enjoy seeing what we listen to, perhaps find a new song or two, and start on the journey for next year’s Wrapped. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that bring us the most happiness, even during the most stressful of holidays.

Affiliate Stuff

(For transparency: I receive a cut of all purchases through these links and partnerships I’m a part of - feel free to check them out!)

  • Notion still remains one of the best productivity tools I use to keep myself organized!