A lot of online activity is about establishing identity, and identity is largely equated with what people consume: what music they listen to, what books they read, what films they see, what games they play, etc. This can be useful. If we find someone whose tastes we respect we might find new things to consume that we might not otherwise have known about. But a lot of it is little more than an attempt to define ourselves through our consumption habits. Personally, I’m much more interested in knowing what someone got out of a particular book, song, film, game than the fact that they are good consumers.
Saxophonist Ornette Coleman’s mother understood the link between consumption and identity. From an interview in the NY Times:
He told a childhood story about his mother, who, he kept reminding me, was born on Christmas Day. After he received his first saxophone, he would go to her when he learned to play something by ear. “I’d be saying: ‘Listen to this! Listen to this!’” he remembered. “You know what she’d tell me? ‘Junior, I know who you are. You don’t have to tell me.’”
And if you haven’t heard The Shape of Jazz to Come …