iPod WHAT?

Okay, so this isn’t only about iPods. In fact, it’s not really even just about MP3 players. It’s really about those cool little gadgets that we all seem to carry around nowadays. So tell me honestly what you do in this situation, because I know you’ve been in it. You’re walking, or your just standing around, waiting for something (like the bus?), listening to your MP3 player. Someone you know bumps into you and you start conversing. Do you take take one or two earbuds out? Do you even bother taking them out or just turn off the music? Or do you even turn off the music?

I’m sure it’s been happening for a long time, but just recently I’ve really begun to look for it. People walking with their heads down, listening to their MP3 players. Or paying more attention to their little PDAs than the people walking around them. I’ve always been somewhat proud of not having to resort to distract myself from the world around me when I’m walking to the library, the bus stop, to work. I can honestly say that I have not walked anywhere listening to my MP3 player in at least a month and half, perhaps more. No, it’s not because I’m afraid of scratching my iPod or anything like that. I’d just prefer to think and absorb things that are happening in the world around me, not in the world that I imagine. How are people paying attention when I can hear their music when I walk around them.

Maybe they don’t realize it, but I find it to be rude. Take this example, one that I have encountered many times. I’m sitting on the bus with someone. They have their iPod going. They’re kind of looking off in the distance, clearly not focusing on their surroundings at all. They look over at me and say something. I respond. But more often than not, they don’t hear clearly or at all and they kind of half-yell “WHAT?” in the way that gives away the fact that they have their MP3 player still on. I mean why bother talk to me if you’re only half listening? Clearly, the music is consuming their attention. And yet they want to feel like they’re including me somehow in their enjoyment. I could just as easily pop in my earbuds and be off in some far off place in my mind. But when I do, I don’t pretend like I’m paying attention. I don’t (perhaps subconsciously) rub it in other peoples’ faces that I AM NOT ACTUALLY LISTENING TO YOU, BUT I’LL HALF PRETEND LIKE I AM. Or maybe I have something to say. Why don’t some people have the courtesy to take out those little earplugs for one moment to actually show some respect?

Mind you, not everyone is like this. Just some. And I’ve noticed it. I’ve noticed it a lot. Technology was supposed to help bring us together, to help us communicate more easily. But how can you convince me of that when I see the total opposite by just stepping outside and going for a walk? Half the people are closing themselves off to the outside world, content with what a little electronic box can provide them. People aren’t even driven (even a little bit) to be social in what used to be social settings. Those iconic white earbuds are like signs that say, “Warning! Do not wish to talk.”

I don’t hold up that sign. Perhaps you should consider taking down yours?

[tags]iPod, not paying attention[/tags]


4 Replies to “iPod WHAT?”

  1. I always listen to my iPod whenever I walk to class if I’m by myself, and whenever I walk pretty much anywhere by myself. However, I’m not the kind of person who looks down, I still look around and absorb by surroundings, even if it’s just so that I know not to cross the street unless I want to get hit by a car. However, I think it’s incredibly rude when people talk to other people while listening to music. When I’m walking and I see someone, I always turn the music off and take off both earbuds. I like to give people my full attention, and in return I kind of expect the same thing. Sometimes I won’t bother pausing the music if it’s only a passing-by hello, but I still remove both earbuds. I think it’s a matter of respect, and whether or not you respect the person enough to give them your undivided attention.

  2. I love, love, love that post, Charlie. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I am a slight offender, I listen to it on the bus (but sometimes only with one bud in, in case someone wants to say something), at the gym, and on the walk from the gym to the bus (such is my life). When the freaking thing broke last November, I was doing all of this without my mp3, and I found myself spending a lot more time thinking, and absorbing my surroundings. It was refreshing, for sure. I got straight back into it, though, when I got it back. Maybe I should try going without it every once in a while.

  3. I can totally understand your frustration with people who walk around all the time with their earbuds in. Gets to me too. It does seem like they’re cutting themselves off from the world a bit, like they are trying to avoid any contact with anyone else. I figure that I listen to so much music at home and on my laptop iTunes at work that it does me good to just hear all the sounds of the normal world when I’m walking to work etc. Like you say Reese, it gives you more time to think and absorb your surroundings.

    And leaving your earbuds in when you’re in a conversation is just plain rude.

  4. I dunno if I agree completely. I have also thought about this and do agree with the fact that during a conversation you shouldn’t have earbuds in, it’s just disconcerting. However, having been a commuter for 4 months I know what it’s like to have to travel 1 1/2 to get to where you’re going every day. For me, music is my life. Every day/week I am writing, transcribing, learning or memorising a new piece of music. It is essential that I use the time I have walking or on public transit to listen to these tunes as much as I can. Sometimes on a long train ride I can have a whole tune transcribed by the time I get off, leaving only the writing part to do.

    I do know what you mean though. What I truly don’t understand are the people who have the ridiculously heavy metal blaring directly into their ears through earbuds. How can that be enjoyable…I just don’t get it. And it’s usually those people that yell “WHAT?!?!” at you. Not the guys listening to Jazz and Bach:D

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