Twitter never has been a land of particularly good manners. But last week, it seemed a lot of users needed to be reminded of that old saw, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
The phrase means you shouldn’t seem ungrateful for a gift.
The gift givers in question were Apple and U2, who put a free copy of the band’s new album, “Songs of Innocence,” in every iTunes account. There it is: If you have an iTunes account, the new album just popped up in it. All you had to do was click the download button (a cloud with a downward arrow, because we can’t seem to handle words anymore) or not.
And these were some of the nicer tweets:
“I’m confused, by definition is iTunes or the U2 record classified as malware?”
“apple FORCIBLY PUT A NEW U2 ALBUM INTO MY ITUNES LIBRARY? D: D: D: D: D:”
and from one critic who apparently listened …
“Well, after listening to the whole album, I can see why U2 decided to give it away on iTunes.”
The way some people were tweeting, you would think somebody had hacked into their accounts and forced them to buy U2’s entire catalog at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, added physical copies to the order and shipped them to their door COD.
It was one free album, people – 11 songs.
I could understand a few soreheads, but the volume of the blowback – so much that Apple set up a website to help you remove the album if you couldn’t figure it out yourself – was bewildering. Some did act like they had been hacked and asked what else Apple could do to their iTunes accounts. Hello! It’s an Apple iTunes account. Did you think they didn’t have access?
Others complained it took up storage. If your cloud or device (if you were set to autodownload purchases, apparently it did just show up on your device) is so full one album is going to create a problem, maybe it’s time to do some editing.
It’s funny, because almost any device you buy is loaded with some sample music by an artist you never heard of for a reason. At least this was by a high profile, best-selling band. Granted, at the risk of looking like a gift horse gazer myself, “Songs of Innocence” is not going to challenge “The Joshua Tree” or “Achtung Baby” for spots on all-time great albums lists.
A big part of the outcry seems to be this: It’s sort of hip to hate U2 now. (The guy who wrote about the death of the iPod Classic for Wired even had to get in a shot.) Never mind the millions of albums sold, sold-out stadiums and trailblazing philanthropic work. U2 comes in for a lot of derision these days, some of it earned.
So an uninvited free album and a Twitter account gives some folks a chance to demonstrate how cool they are by telling the world how much they don’t like U2. Like many things online, it’s easy. It’s a preemptive strike because … God forbid anyone look at my iTunes account and think I actually like U2.
But in reality, it’s sort of like someone came up to you and handed you a physical copy of the album, and you threw it on the ground, stomped on it and yelled, “I don’t want this (favorite expletive here)!”
We all know what that would look like.