Maya couldn’t breathe.
Her earbuds blasted music into her ears. The FlowMac Pop revival of the 2060s had produced a lot of music with thudding bass and catchy rhythms, all with lyrics so cliched and empty that Maya had seen bar fights start over the question of whether the songs even qualified as music. After all, they’d been composed by retro AI software trained on music produced by then-modern AI software, a bit of recursive nonsense that Maya had always loved.
Purists swore that the older software roughened up the pristine edges of the music produced by newer algorithms. Critics retorted that making the music worse didn’t make it less rote. Art was supposed to convey the soul, and so far no one had created an algorithm with one of those.
Maya mostly agreed with the critics. But that was precisely why she loved the safe, pounding beat and the empty lyrics that melted away into meaningless sound. FlowMac Pop was predictable. It drowned out the noise of the world, it didn’t surprise her, and it never overwhelmed her with unexpected, unwanted emotion.
Sometimes, the last thing she could tolerate was being forced to feel.