The iPod has been touted as many things, including "the 21st century's first consumer icon," by sociologist Michael Bull. We've heard it before. Apple's iPod is a cultural phenomenon, changing our experience of music and leaving an imprint on our urban environments. It's spawned entire industries, and even changed the way that car stereos are designed. The iPod is now a quickly growing and ever expanding $3 billion dollar industry.
I have an iPod, and I love it. Probably for all the reasons the pundits talk about. Yes, I use it as an "urban shield." I despise listening to other people's conversations at traffic lights, on streetcars, and on subways. Honestly, I don't want to hear about the 15th fight you had with your boyfriend. And it's not necessary for you to scream it on your cellphone so everyone can hear. We don't care about your life. Really, we don't.
I never listened to the radio anyhow. I couldn't stand the music selection or the voices of the DJs or the commercials. And I certainly won't be downloading anyone's podcast anytime soon. OK, I admit it. I like the control. I like being in my own little sound bubble, cocooned away from other people's thoughts, ideas and noise. And while I may have my hermit tendencies, I'm definitely not anti-social, like some critics would have you believe. Really, it's all about having the music I want, when I want it, in any environment I want it in.
Recently though, I've noticed a rather disturbing phenomenon. Last week, I saw at least 3 people, headphones on, hands waving and feet moving rhythmically in an all out dance. In the middle of the street. Just like the iPod silhouette commercials. Now I can understand a little foot tapping and head bopping. Sometimes the beats get to me too. But this is bordering on ridiculous. It's a television commercial, people! An advertisement! Not real life!
On the subway the other day, 2 men sat across from each other, iPod headphones on, staring at each other's reflections in the glass. If it's possible to do so, one started breakdancing in his seat, arms moving robotically, and head weaving from side to side. The other took this as a challenge and started his own popping and locking in his seat. Needless to say, it was very distracting, and the dancing? Well...
Not so good.
Didn't matter to them I guess, cuz when I got off the train, the silent breakdance-off was still going strong.
I hope that little show is the last I'll see of this new phenomenon. I beg all you fellow iPod users...a little decorum please. You're giving us a bad name.