In 2000, *NSYNC’s seven-times platinum album, No Strings Attached, was released. The band’s now preteen-aged audience could finally handle the group’s budding twenty-something sexuality, as well as the adult-themed track #8, “Digital Get Down" — a song which played on the heartache of long-distance relationships, and served as a testament to a time when landlines and AIM were the rage. The sentiment was true, and while that and the overtly sexual nature of the song may have been obvious ( … to others), a few questions remain unclear.
Digital digital get down just you and me
(You may be) 20,000 miles away but I can see ya
And baby baby you can see me
Digital digital get down just what we need
We can get together naturally
(We can) We can get together on the digital screen
20,000 miles? Where is *NSYNC?
For sea-level reference, New York City’s latitude and longitude coordinates are 40.7142° N and 74.0064° W. The farthest distance away from these coordinates on Earth, therefore, would be 40° S and 106° E (NYC’s antipode). The distance between these two points is approximately 12,000 miles, assuming the Earth is a sphere. Even accounting for the Earth’s true shape*, this will not ever approximate 20,000 miles. Unless, of course, they are in outer space. This seems unlikely, however, due to the proceeding lyric:
Every time I’m sittin home alone girl
I can’t wait to get you on the phone girl
They’re sitting at home! Their lover is within phoning distance! Outer space immediately becomes implausible for a digital get-down. And once we consider that the farthest distance across the continental United States is approximately 3,100 miles, significantly less than 20,000, we are left to assume the two parties involved are making long-distance phone calls.
A quick Google search determines that the ENTIRE circumference of the Earth at the Equator is 24,901.55 miles, or the lesser 24,859.82 miles, measuring pole to pole. Keep in mind that this figure is NOT at sea level, but at atmospheric, which again, is not possible with the given of phone communication. And, knowing that the farthest distance between two points on Earth is approximately 12,000 miles, which slightly more than half of 20,000, what conclusion can we jump to?
That *NSYNC’s estimate of 20,000 miles reflects Δx. In other words, their calculation reflects a travel plan around the entirety of the Earth, without noting that the Earth is a three-dimensionalentity. “20,000 miles” is not a practical-traveling distance, but a distance around the planet in one single direction. 24,859.82 miles (the entire circumference) - 20,000 miles (proposed distance) = 4,859.82 miles. *NSYNC’s mystery companion, then, is in fact the much-fewer 4,859.82 miles away.
This inaccuracy in calculation then opens the door for possibility. Jive Records, which produced the album, was formerly located in New York City. Possibilities for the mystery get-down city in question, then, include: Honolulu, Hawaii, Varna, Romania**, La Serena, Chile**, and countless others. Countless.
In conclusion, the song, “Digital Get Down,” misuses the figure “20,000 miles.” Indeed, ample heartache can be experienced between digital lovers separated by such real distance, but their incredible hyperbole falsely plays on the sympathies of listeners. The song cannot be trusted.
*The Earth is NOT a sphere, so please understand that this is a mere estimation +/- a couple thousand miles.
**Hope you’ve got a phone plan, guys.