The iPod is 10 years old. For some time, I was the only family member without one; rectified by a birthday present, despite my inept technology skills. I forced myself to take the time to learn how to download a few cds, mostly show tunes, and used the device when running.
Thing is, I rarely run alone; needing both the motivation and conversation friends provide. It sat in my desk drawer—the earphones never felt comfortable and I couldn’t be bothered taking it on airplanes.
Daniel J. Levitin, a McGill University neuroscientist, discussed the iPod’s impact in the New York Times. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/opinion/sunday/happy-birthday-ipod.html)
My reactions to some of his comments:
1. Listening to music through headphones affects hearing.
When I taught, I had students read newspaper articles about severe teenage hearing loss due to loud music, exacerbated by headphones. Not sure anyone “listened.”
2. Listening to music affects what we hear.
I love it when someone has headphones on and he/she has to shout to answer a question as if I’m standing on the other side of a canyon.
3. iPods change the way we “share” music.
Listening to music is social. Before everyone had iPods, we’d get into the van, slide in a favorite cassette tape, and enjoy songs and stories. Many of the stories sung by folk singer Bill Harley became part of family lexicon; we still quote him to this day. (“You’re in Trouble”)
By the time our children were teenagers, they had their own music systems. We’d look in the back seat and see three kids either “plugged up” or asleep.
Other observations: Wearing earphones is dangerous when crossing a street, driving, or riding a bike. I can’t ask directions when people are in their own iPod world; I don’t want to interrupt. Babies and toddlers are receiving less interaction from those pushing their strollers. Everyone is either talking on a phone or listening to music. Headphones, ear buds, and alien looking phone appendages prevent caregivers from commenting about animals, flowers, and bulldozers.
Recently I tried to use my iPod for a solo run. It didn’t work. My local computer shop confirmed its demise, and of course, it’s unfixable. Happy Birthday, iPod; I’m celebrating by not replacing mine. I’ll sing as a jog and listen to music provided by the birds.