When Banks vocally contorts in the chorus of Fuck With Myself, “cause I fuck with myself more than anybody else”, I wholeheartedly believe Nick Keys when he suggests musicians to be our contemporary love theorists in a very digestible form. This sense of self-awareness in Banks’ song recognises we entrap ourselves and are our own psychological bullies, which resonates in our smitten relationship with contemporary technology as our proxy. The charged yet unspoken familiar feelings around loneliness and intimacy is central to changing our psyche where being alone is somehow a problem that needs solving. We use ‘confessions in the digital world’ as a ‘means for people to understand themselves and others, for constructing gender identity, the practices of men and women and emotional relationships’ (Yang 2014, p. 101). There is an irony to the title of Banks’ latest album, The Altar, associating the notion of love to one that is idealised, sacrificial and pure, however, breaking down these culturally given ideas with each song is her confession.
Our interactions with technology have left us with a degree of inability, what Sherry Turkle in her Ted talk regards as ‘cultivating the capacity for solitude’, where we turn to other people to feel less anxious and to feel alive (2012). This leads us to create our own illusion that subconsciously uses people as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self instead of recognising the vulnerability in our flaws. Banks in Gemini Feed vocalises “and to think you would get me to the altar … if you would’ve let me grow, you could’ve kept my love”, tackling our yearning for genuine love rather than the emotionally manipulative relationship we tend to find ourselves in as we constantly negotiate the terms of companionship. She continues to reiterate in Weaker Girl – “tell ’em you were mad about the way I grew strong … I think you need a weaker girl” – the heteronormative ‘operations of gender power’ in an intimate relationship and by disclosing it in her music maintains an ‘individual subjectivity’ to break the dominant mould (Yang 2014, p. 97).
We tend to experience ‘pretend empathy’ as social technology takes on a role of ‘automatic listening’ by providing the feeling of being understood so we come to expect more from technology than each other, we are given ‘comfortable control’ where we put attention where we want it expecting to always be heard and never have to be alone (Turkle 2012). The concept of technology has ‘always related to humans’, an equation that displays ‘non-neutral transformational possibilities’ in every way we make use of it and contemporarily have we seen greater amplification and magnification (Ihde 1993, p. 53).Writing Mother Earth after coming out of depression and her sister gives birth to a baby girl, Banks echoes the power of confession in our digital age where speaking our struggles as a wounded healer is powerful. Salvatore in his post reaffirms music to be the principle discourse of love that triggers discussion and is our therapy, seeing as we all have such a high metabolism for it.
Banks 2016, The Altar, album, Harvest Records, California, USA.
Ihde, D. 1993, ‘Technology’, Philosophy of Technology: An Introduction, New York: Paragon House, pp.47-64
Turkle, S. 2012, Connected, but alone?, Ted, viewed on 27 October 2016, <https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together?language=en>
Yang, H. 2014, ‘Young People’s Friendship and Love Relationships and Technology: New Practices of Intimacy and Rethinking Feminism’, Asian Journal of Women’s Studies, vol .20, no. 1, pp. 93-124