On the other hand, just to be devil's advocate -
what about those wonderful, unforgettable experiences that can only be had as a group of people in community?
What comes to mind immediately is a play I saw once in Ashland. It was a performance of A Winter's Tale
that was absolutely exquisite. It was outside, and it started to rain. An audience member selfishly put up an umbrella at the first sprinkles and was gently shamed by audience members around him to put it away so everyone could see. As sprinkles became a downpour, the actors donned rain ponchos to protect their beautiful costumes. The sound of the driving rain made it difficult to hear - and yet, the play continued.
With the extras stripped away, the actors put forth an extra effort to be heard and understood. There was a kind of "leaning forward" so to speak towards the audience, an extension of heart and will. The audience reciprocated as a whole by "leaning forward" with all their energies to hear, to see through the rain, and to willfully ignore the fact that they were becoming soaked by the warm summer rain.
Somewhere in the middle the two forces collided in what I will always remember as a completely electric, dynamic experience of theatre, and in a larger sense, we all experienced art as bringing unity.
Solitude is a wonderful and necessary thing, but just as important, I feel, is community. It keeps us honest, accountable, generous. Shared experience tears down personal and cultural barriers, and makes us a little more forgiving and patient with each other.
In an increasingly isolated world, where everyone gets into their own little cars, goes to their own little cubicles, fills their own little niches with their work, eats their lunches by themselves with a book, goes home in their cars, gets angry at the other me-firsts on the road, pulls into forbidding garages that are bigger and more prominent than the front porch, and hole up in their houses for the rest of the evening behind a privacy screen, I can't help but feel that this translates into an increasingly narcissistic world view when it comes to the body politic.
Music has always been a kind of societal glue - it's become less so since Clear Channel co-opted it. I don't blame people for seeking better music on the internet - it's definitely a better place to find it. But I feel that music is and always will be something best shared.