Whenever someone hitches a ride with me, I’m always filled with a sense of apprehension over the possibility of them judging what’s currently playing in my car. When I’m hanging out at the beach with some friends, I would never volunteer my phone to be hooked up to the speakers. I’m constantly worried that one day, my earphones or my laptop or my phone would fail me and somehow, my music would blast for an excruciating few seconds, enough for everyone to form assumptions about me, based on what music I like.

I grew up in a house filled with music. My parents would sing together while my father played the guitar, and half of my siblings play some sort of musical instrument. So it’s safe to say that music existed in my home from as far back as I can remember. And there wasn’t just one kind of genre that would play in our rooms; whatever pleased our ears was fair game. Singing was a given every day; and it’s come to the point where I actually feel semi-naked without a pair of earphones stuffed into my ears. (Is that just me?)

Music is universal. Language is clearly no barrier for someone who genuinely enjoys a good beat, and yet I’m still anxious about what people would think about the playlist of anime covers I have on my phone, or the fact that I am completely out of the loop with current Western pop music, but I’d still be able to belt out Blue’s One Love just fine any time of the day.

And yet, why does anyone get a high from putting down someone else for liking a certain genre or song or artist?

I truly believe that music is personal for every single person, and to assume something, or even worse, insult someone’s music taste is pretty much akin to insulting their core thoughts and beliefs. It’s unnecessary, it’s demeaning, and it makes no sense in the long run.

When someone deigns to give me an earbud and allows me to listen to their favourite song, I honestly feel honoured by that action. It’s a sneak peek into their interests, what moves them and it’s a huge act of trust on their part. And I applaud them for their courage. Because music is a language that transcends words, and it speaks to one’s emotions, in any kind of mood. It engulfs us in joy, and it soothes our pain; we listen to sad songs when we feel broken and somehow, it makes us feel better about ourselves.

And that’s why we need to be nice about people’s music tastes. I grew up with music as a crutch during my angst teen years, and I still need to listen to specific playlists I’ve curated for different activities (I have separate ones for writing, editing, and even working out, even though I exercise once a year). For some people, music is more than that, and to be disrespectful about a song that reminds them of the first time they met their spouse or the song that brings back memories about a loved one that has passed away is truly, quite a cruel thing to do.