Beautiful Songs Shared via Human Generosity

This is a review about Emotional Bag Check, a site where you can off-load your emotional bag and get a nice song suggested by a stranger to cheer you up. It “turns music into mental medicine”.

I’ve tried this site twice this weekend, and really like it. The first time I posted that “My badminton partners don’t really want to play with me, because I am worse than them. I am ruining their fun. They just ignore me implicitly.” I got a song back in about 20 hours. It’s called Onemosphere by Atmosphere from the album God Loves Ugly. I never heard this song before, and it’s not really my style, but the lyrics is somehow encouraging. The second time, I posted “I got a very bad team partner from one class. He just talks big and doesn’t really do real work. I have to do twice the work.” I got a song back in just about one hour and with some comfort words. The song is Lean On Me, which I really like. The fact that these strangers are putting thought and effort looking for the song that could comfort me is really touching.

I tend to blog or post something online when I am unhappy. I think Internet can be used for healing emotional discomfort if used wisely. Life is tough. We constantly need someone to share, or need a shoulder to lean on. However, out of various reasons, oftentimes we cannot find the appropriate person to share, or a shoulder to borrow around us. Strangers can be a good choice under such circumstances, since we don’t need to worry about anything else. Internet is a good place to seek strangers since the identity can be totally hidden. People become more understanding and empathetic when being a rationale stranger. Not only I can seek comfort from Facebook among people I know, also I can seek comfort from totally strangers. Now I think for healing emotional discomfort very close people (strong ties) and totally strangers can both be helpful, while weak ties are mostly for purposes like job seeking, information sharing, etc. The weak ties for me is a gray zone, and haven’t figured out how to maintain yet.

If what Clay Shirky meant by cognitive surplus can be regarded as a intellectual contribution to the whole society, what Emotional Bag Check and other similar sites such as PostSecret brought is psychological or emotional contribution to humanity. Both of them are out of human generosity.

While I like the idea behind the Emotional Bag Check very much, I also appreciate the simply and easy user interface. Not need to sign up and be buzzed by the various functionality, just write things out of your chest and get a song via email with a URL linked to Grooveshark.

screenshots from

This is almost the simplest user interface design I’ve ever seen. It’s this simple and achieved a lot. The user also have another choice to offer to help others out by taking the bag and finding an appropriate song. I haven’t tried this, assume that it should also be easy to use. There is one interview with the creator of Emotional Bag Check Robyn Overstreet, and he mentioned that he wants to keep things simple. Simple is good!


8 thoughts on “Beautiful Songs Shared via Human Generosity

  1. Interesting, and are those songs suggested by editors of the sites or sorted out using some tags, keywords, and done by the system or computer? ITs magical!

    • The songs are not suggested by the editors or computer algorithms. They are suggested by another user (random matched from all users who wants to help others out, but only one get to read your message). You can choose to check your emotional bag there, and if you don’t have any emotional bag, you can choose to help others out. So you, as a user, can go to suggest songs to others there. All the process is anonymous.

  2. Cindy,
    thank you for your post. I didn’t know such a thing even existed. It got me to wondering how such a tool (and others like it) might be beneficial to people who are shut ins (restricted from leaving their homes) due to illness. I suspect that isolation due to illness could be the worst kind of loneliness. I am sure there are plenty of mental/physical health researchers out there already looking into this, but I have to say I have never considered social media/Web 2.0 as a partner in healthcare. You have opened my eyes and mind to yet another possible benefit to this new world.

    • Re: social media in healthcare, the role of online communities has been researched for a while. Good point about the potential benefits of this new service. After the kind of day I’ve had, I think I need to use it myself 😉

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