iPods, mp3 players, and thier affect of the world around us

Years ago, if you wanted to listen to your music you wouldn’t grab your iPod or even a walkman, you would have to turn on a radio or go to wherever you had set up your music system. Throughout university residences people would be blasting their music on their boom-boxes, much to the annoyance of their neighbours. Back then, music was more openly shared between people, after all, they didn’t have much choice. Today, almost everyone has either an iPod or an mp3 player, which means that no one can blast their music anymore. Today, music is a more private matter, and isn’t as openly shared as it used to be. iPods and mp3 players have likewise altered the “space” around us that is more heard rather than seen. Who hasn’t ever turned up their iPod so loud that they couldn’t hear what was going on around them, or just listened to their music and try to lose themselves in it? These music players create personal spaces for everyone who uses them, severing them off from the real world around them if they choose. Because iPods and mp3’s are so small, and no one else can hear what you are listening to, they can also encourage us to use them when we really shouldn’t, like in class for example. They make it easy to drown out the reality around us, and seclude us in our own little bubbles of music. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that devices like iPods and mp3’s have altered the way we engage with the space around us, and have also helped to cut us off from the real world.

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2 Comments

  1. I agree with the points you’re making and just wanted to comment on how this new technology (iPods) is an example of how technology can actually disconnect us from the social environment around us. Now, having your headphones in is pretty much the universal sign for “Don’t talk to me”, and people follow that rule for the most part. Another point I wanted to make was people who have either one headphone in or both on low volume while you’re talking to them. It’s hard to feel you have someone’s full attention when you can hear the music coming out of their headphones. Other than that I think you bring up some good points about how it does enable us to listen to our own music, and not force everyone else to listen too.

  2. mkmattes brings up a distinction that Mitchell hints at, but could stand to more fully develop: the private/public difference in these music technologies. The old boom boxes are about public space intruding on private space–your own life is invaded because the neighbors leave their music on too loud. But the iPod shows private space extending into public space–you can carry your own bubble of privacy with you wherever you go. Now, private/public is never an entirely divided line, but I think the iPod technology emphasizes music as a personal thing, in comparison to a few centuries ago where listening to anything involving multiple instruments was usually a very public event.
    –MH


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