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I cannot believe people are still whining about getting a free U2 album

Published Sep 16th, 2014 2:15PM EDT
Apple Free U2 Album

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In my two-plus years at BGR, I’ve written about a lot of so-called “first-world problems” — that is, issues that seem like huge burdens to people who live relatively comfortable lifestyles but that are in reality not that big of a deal, particularly when you think about all of the wars, famines and deadly disease outbreaks that kill people every single day. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: How to get rid of the U2 album that Apple put in your iTunes account

Some classic examples of first-world problems include Apple’s poorly implemented Maps application, Google’s frustratingly fragmented Android platform, Microsoft’s ill-advised decision to kill the Start menu in Windows 8 and, yes, all manner of annoying things that ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner Cable do. That said, I have never in my entire tech writing career seen a controversy as ridiculous and privileged as the recent spat over Apple’s decision to give its users a free U2 album.

I had originally planned to leave this “controversy” alone until I read an utterly absurd editorial over at Wired that claimed that Apple’s “devious U2 album giveaway” was “even worse than spam.” And this isn’t just a case of a sensible argument being masked by a sensational headline — the editorial really is as stupid as it sounds.

“To anoint an otherwise inconsequential cultural artifact as worthy of bandwidth, storage space, and mental overhead on behalf of every single iTunes user is tantamount to Apple picking the music for the devices it sells,” thunders author Vijith Assar. “Is the company completely oblivious to the idea that users of its technology products come in shapes other than those who would be interested in a pop-rock band popular among older white males?”

You cannot make this stuff up.

To summarize: Apple decided to pay $100 million in royalty fees and marketing expenses in exchange for U2’s latest album, which it then gave away for free to all of its customers. Some people got annoyed with this, which is fair and which is why Apple decided to give them a simple way to delete the album from their iTunes accounts.

But apparently this gesture wasn’t enough because Apple has still — God forbid! — wasted our precious mental overhead by forcing us to take seconds out of our day to delete unwanted Dad Rock!

I’m really in awe here. iPhoneU2Gate is such a stupid thing to get upset over that I’m not even going to categorize it as a first-world problem. Instead, it’s a first-world extremely minor inconvenience. And it’s not even a major extremely minor inconvenience either — by my calculations, the following people have more right to be upset than the people who were “victimized” by getting a free U2 album:

  • People whose Chinese takeout delivery guy forgot to give them their fortune cookies
  • People who got a splinter in their feet
  • People who bought a skunked six-pack of beer
  • People whose local bakery ran out of their favorite kind of bagels this morning
  • People who cut their fingernails too short and will feel slightly uncomfortable because of it
  • People who got dust in their nose and sneezed because of it

In fact, the only thing that even comes close to the people whining about getting a free U2 album are people who are upset because they haven’t yet found a plastic bottle that has their name on it as part of the “Share a Coke” campaign. There are so many bad or even mildly irritating things that happen to you in life every single day. If the worst thing that’s happened to you all month is that Apple gave you a free U2 album, you should be grateful.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.


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