I logged into Spotify on the morning of Valentine’s Day to a particularly unsettling creation by the music-streaming site. The “Browse” selection held, above the other popular playlist options, two boxes. One was marked as the “I Love You: Valentine’s Day Love Songs” while the adjacent box was marked as “I Hate You: Anti-Love Songs.” Both included equally nauseating descriptions beneath their titles — “John Legend will help you celebrate this special day” for the former, and “Love stinks! Get yourself through this wretched holiday” for the latter.

I was nauseated, and not because of the cynic living inside of me. It wasn’t the celebration of Valentine’s Day that disgusted me. It was the jarring polarization of emotion that a simple, stupid music-streaming site was trying to create for people. Why define your own emotions, said the computer, when we’ve got an electronic algorithm that can do it much more efficiently — and for a profit! So here, at this installed notion I found on my computer screen, cue the vomit.

Valentine’s Day’s capitalist backbone is oft mentioned — the exploitation of the human heart by corporate America through installed, artificial expectations — and so I find there is little left to dissect here. Walmart, Target, Hallmark and the rest of them all benefit immensely from the happiness or sadness of this holiday by validating our human emotions with material possessions. The media and corporations, stores and social expectations implant a necessity for happiness for those who have found a special someone, or sadness because of a lack of a significant other. Teddy bears, chocolates and flowers are supposed to follow the happy ones, and there’s the formulaic romantic comedies, tissue boxes and Ben & Jerry’s for all the lonely people.

Those two dumb Spotify playlists only add to this societal polarization. “Here, take this, you malleable youths and adults,” the Internet has two playlists to tell you how to feel. “Here’s some happiness, those of you who found someone to cling to; those other plebeians, without someone to share this special day with, please accept this gift of 50 angry Adele, Pink and Avril Lavigne songs to bask in the ‘hate’ you must feel for the person who is making you feel abandoned on this special day.” I reiterate: nausea.

Why do we allow this digital categorization to control human feeling? I suspect that it can create false emotions. Listening to the “I Hate You” playlist with or without a subject to despise can over-inflate emotions and situations. Whether because of timing, disagreements, fundamental differences of maturity or principles, and sometimes a touch of bad behavior, relationships don’t work. But why include hate? Who said hate was the go-to emotion to combat love? And why fight against love at all? We allow society to measure our sadness. And so you buy the ice cream and “Fifty Shades of Grey” tickets, and the archetypes remain.

We (or perhaps just I) need a playlist to fight against this madness.

The following playlist was created with an allegorical story I heard on NPR’s “Invisibilia” podcast recently. Written by Simon Rich, a frequent contributor to the New Yorker, it is a modern recreation of a most beautiful teaching by Aristophanes. Rich recreates a story of Greek mythology written by Aristophanes where three kinds of human beings roam the earth: males, descended from the sun; women, descended from the earth; and those who were androgynous (half male and female) who descended from the moon. Each human at this time was very round, with four arms and legs and two identical faces on opposite sides of their head. Jealous of the humans’ happiness, Zeus decided to split them all in two. The severed humans were left to roam the earth and sky for the rest of their lives, searching for the other part that once made them whole.

Rich’s reinvention adds a fourth sex to Aristophanes’s tale, a type of human called “children of the dirt.” Some are male and some are female, and each just had two arms, two legs and one head. Typically too depressed or irritated to talk to people, they find all two-parted beings repulsive and resent any public forum that forces them to engage with the earth, moon and sun children. These loners were left unaffected by Zeus in his rampage because they were already considered “fucked”. No matter how long they search the Earth, and no matter how long they wander, “there’s nobody for them, not anybody in the world.”

The podcast defines this story as a category test. If you’re heartbroken or lonely or think that “you’re a little off in your aloneness,” you consider yourself a child of the dirt. With entry into this personal categorization, solace is found as is less sadness and fear. In fact, in Rich’s story he dictates that most humans are children of the dirt — that they make up the vast majority of the population. If you’re in love, this is all meaningless to you. But if you’re alone, confused or just generally doubtful of your ability to process the emotions others seem to grasp so fluidly, Rich has created a place for you.

Here’s a playlist for the children of the dirt, you uncategorized, beautifully independent beings. They inhabit the vast divide between the polarized “I Love You: Valentine’s Day Love Songs” and “I Hate You: Anti-Love Songs.” Whether temporarily basking in sadness and self-pity, or pleasantly content, or confused about the romantic and personal path your life could take, here’s one to help you all stay dirty:

Children of the Dirt

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