Friday, October 13, 2006

To iPod or not to iPod (or, See the Person!)

I'm thinking about getting an iPod.

Currently, I use Rhapsody for music downloads--I'm not exactly sure how iTunes works, but with Rhapsody, I can listen to pretty much anything I want to for a fee of $7.95/month, and then if I want to buy/burn tracks, they're $.89/track. It's great--we feed Rhapsody through our stereo system and listen to newly released CDs, old stuff from the '80s, and everything in between for $8 a month.

I dig it. That's how I found James Blunt, way back in December.

But I'm thinking about getting an iPod so I can take the music with me, or listen to books on tape, etc.

Anyway, so I happen to mention this to the group of friends Music Man and I go out with every Thursday, and I explain that one of the reasons is so that I can wear the iPod and keep listening to music/workshop sessions/books on CD when I'm running errands, going shopping, etc.

And one of my friends mentioned that it really bothered her that people wore their iPods when they go shopping.

"It's anti-social," she said. "We're becoming so anti-social and isolated, and it bugs me." (That last part isn't a direct quote, but you get the idea.)

Thus began a lively conversation about this stage of communication--or lack of--in our society. We do so much by internet, text, cell phone, etc.--as our communication capabilities explode, are we actually becoming more anti-social?

I have beloved friends that I've met once or twice in person, but "know" through the internet and telephone.

During this conversation, another friend mentioned an Isaac Asimov book (she couldn't remember the title) in which the society depicted therein had advanced so far in technological communications that it was considered rude to interact with another human being in person. Everything was done by holograms, etc. (I wanted to know how they had sex.)

This discussion brought me to another point I've been wanting to write about for awhile. I was at a meeting with a ministry group in which I'm active, and we got to talking about how easy it is to rush through life and past people without really seeing them--seeing each person as an individual.

We pass people in the grocery, on the street, at school, at work, in the car and they're just people. The plural, the generic, the masses.

But they aren't. Each person is a person.

And what a difference we would make if we saw each one of those people as a person, not as one of a mass.

As an individual, who maybe had a bad day, woke up on the wrong side of the bed, their coffee maker didn't work this morning, they got in a fight with their kid, they got some unexpected money, they passed a test, they finished a big project, have a headache, found out their mom has cancer, found out their wife was pregnant....

You get the idea.

What if we each did that, maybe not to every person we came in contact with, but made an effort to really see the person we pass on the grocery aisle or who serves us our coffee, or who takes the parking place we had our eye on? What if?

What if we didn't wear our iPods so as to be lost in our own little world, but instead had the earphones out of our ears, so we heard the little old lady behind us in the grocery ask for help getting something down...or we actually talked to the server who takes our order, instead of talking to them in short, one-word comments while our cell phone is pressed to our face?

What if?

14 Comments:

Blogger Heather Harper soliloquized...

I think it is the writer's nature to "see" people. Yet I come across as anti-social to many, but it isn't because I own an iPod. It's because I'm horribly shy in person.

You've given us something to think about.

About the iPod: I love using it with iTrip in my car. And I use big, regular Bose ear phones instead of the small ones you insert in your ear because those bother me. I love having my iPod to drown out outside noises when I write. And I have books on it too.

Downside: you will not get the free monthly service rhapsody offers with iTunes.

Friday, October 13, 2006 8:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Gypsy soliloquized...

I definitely think we're becoming more and more isolated. I noticed this especially when I lived in DC, where everyone seemed to be listening to something else, something other than the world around them. And I do find it annoying when people listen to music on earphones when they're out and about in shops and stuff. It's just another wall we build up.

I hate the phone now, and I know that's largely to do with the internet. But then again, I've met some of my closest friends online.

That said, I do want an iPod, mostly for use when working around the house or working out. I find scrubbing goes much easier with ABBA.

Friday, October 13, 2006 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous N. Mallory soliloquized...

I'm incredibly shy in person with people I don't know, but the few times I've tried to strike up conversations with say the check-out clerk or the person taking my order, they haven't been interested in conversation. In fact, they've been rather short with me.

This is part of this age though. When I was working as a cashier and customer service clerk 10-20 years ago, I was trained to go out of my way to strike up conversations with the customers and be friendly. Now I think they're taught to just get people through the lines and out the door. It's a shame because I know I had people who regularly came through my check-out lines because they knew me and knew I would take care of them and ask about their kids or mother or life. I think this adds to the feeling of isolation.

One of the things I continue to struggle with is finding a new circle of friends after moving from New Orleans to Maine 2 years ago. It's just hard to find a niche in your mid-thirties when you're single and don't barhop...people are hard to approach, particularly when you're shy and they don't make themselves approachable.

Friday, October 13, 2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger The Cosmic Kid soliloquized...

As a university student, I've seen people hit by cars AND bikes while listening to ipods, I've seen people listen to them in class, I've seen people all sitting together at lunch tables....listening to ipods. I've seen some crazy iPod behavior.

HOWEVER...I got my iPod 3 years ago as a High School graduation present, and I can't live with out it. I have CDs stacked up to my ears at my appartment, and it's amazing to take them with me EVERYWHERE. Also, I listen to audio books like crazy in the car to keep down the road rage (david sedaris has really helped with that).

And, the NUMBER ONE reason why every university student now NEEDS an ipod: Professors are recording and broadcasting their lectures as podcasts! So if you're sick, don't worry, just download the lecture later. Cramming for that exam and you suck at note taking? Just download the lecture and fast foreward right to what you need. Most of my general LS&A classes are now doing this and I'm all for it.

I will always support the iPod and the quality products apple produces. my iPod has lasted 3+years, and my friends who went with other mp3 players have since had to either buy new players or switch over too. Viva La Revolution!

Friday, October 13, 2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Devonna soliloquized...

Great post today, Colleen. I do think that as a society we're getting more isolated ~ I think we're busier and our mindset has gone more to what we need to get done versus thinking about the person in front or behind or beside you.

I for one am pretty introverted ~ I have my public personality and my private one. My public one is the one that goes to work with me. I deal with people all day long. I'm friendly, funny, caring and always willing to listen and/or talk to any employee who needs me. But when I leave work, my private personality takes over. I don't talk to people I don't know and I go into this tunnel vision where I just want to go home and be left alone. That's my life. Day in and day out.

I do often wonder though with as busy as our lives are getting are we losing the capacity to care for other people? I hope not. I know that I still am touched when people do kind deeds for others.

I had an experience about a year ago that really humbled me. I was downtown for the farmers market with my niece. We were walking to the car and my niece spotted a homeless woman sitting by the street. I didn't notice her ~ my tunnel vision had taken over and I was just focused on getting to the car. As we crossed the street, Kiddo pointed her out and said "She must be cold". It was starting to feel like winter outside and she didn't have much to cover herself with. It was my niece's idea to help her. She was the child ~ I was the adult. I should have known better. We went to Wendy's and got her some hot chili and coffee. Now, I think of that woman often and wonder what ever happened to her. I hope and pray that she's found shelter somewhere and she has a place to sleep at night.

Friday, October 13, 2006 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Colleen Gleason soliloquized...

Thanks for all your comments and thoughts! Very valuable and interesting.

I have to admit, I personally have not been bothered when I see people with an iPod in public, but I do dislike it when people are on a wireless headset/cell phone and it looks like they are talking to themselves. :-)

Anyway, I think you're all right and are saying much the same thing--what it boils down to is we as a society are becoming more isolated and self-centered: it's what we want to listen to when we want to listen to it, for example. My time is my time. My interests are more important than what's going on around me.

Not stopping and smelling the roses (as per my post the other day) or seeing the person can't help but contribute to a Me!-Me!-Me! society.

I hope we don't get to the point where people are talking about legislating the use of things like iPods and cells in public places...!

I hope not--because I hope that we as a society might realize how we're isolating ourselves before we get to be like the society in Isaac Asimov's book (which I thought someone would know the title of--CARL!?).

Can we each try to "see the person" one time per day? Maybe that would make a difference.

And as for public versus private personas--I so understand what you're saying Devonna--it can be exhausting being "on" all the time at work. We all need down time.

And N., I can only imagine how hard it is to uproot at the age we're at and move to a totally new place. It's impossible to meet people.

We (meaning Society) hardly even know our neighbors anymore. We live in our little cubicles at work, and then bring that cubicle mentality home to our yard, and now, to our personal space by using earphones to drown out the world.

Sigh.

Friday, October 13, 2006 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Annie soliloquized...

I started typing out this huge rant disagreeing, but even though I'm feeling better, I'm not well enough it seems to express my point the way I want to.

Basically, I think the number of people who isolate themselves from society are the same as before, but technology enables them to be isolated in public in ways they couldn't before. That same person that won't look you in the eye today because they're jamming to their iPod is likely the same person who wouldn't look you in the eye before iPods were invented. And if you took their iPod away, I still don't think they'd "see" you.

Maybe I'm just fortunate to have lived most of my life in various places where people aren't in a hurry and do take time to notice those around them.

Friday, October 13, 2006 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Colleen Gleason soliloquized...

Cosmic, I had no idea iPods were as necessary as computers now for university students. Sheesh. Why even bother to go to class if you can download the podcast?

Annie, I think you have a good point in your unranty rant. We just see the proof of isolation that was already there before.

Thought-provoking.

Friday, October 13, 2006 1:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Janet soliloquized...

When I have my iPod on out in public, I don't feel isolated; I also don't have the damn thing turned way up ... I can still hear things going on around me, it's rather like listening to the radio in your car when you have passengers.

An iPod is great for when you don't want to be bothered, but it also doesn't prevent you from partaking in society if you choose to. At least, that's how I use mine.

Why do people feel they have to be available to all and sundry 24/7? I need some alone time sometimes, and when I can't get it, putting on my iPod is a great way to get some of that time.

However, if I'm in the grocery line and I hear someone asking for help, I'll quickly pull out an ear bud and help...I also turn the iPod off or put it on pause when going through a checkout line...it's only polite.

On iTunes, you pay $.99 a song, you can also purchase entire CDs, movies, tv shows, videos and books for various prices. I've uploaded my own CDs and audio books to my iPod as well, using iTunes.

Great entry, it really made me think :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006 2:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Jaci Burton soliloquized...

Great topic!

I'm hoping we aren't losing the ability to connect with our fellow man. I do sense the 'tuning out' of others, though I don't own an IPOD (yet) but I see people plugged in a lot and seemingly unreachable. I can't stand people yakking on their cell phones around me when I'm sitting at a restaurant, because they're infringing on my peace, then.

I think there's a lot to be said for face to face eye contact and conversation, even if it is a nod, a smile and a casual hello.

It's a lost art...

Friday, October 13, 2006 3:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mailyn soliloquized...

OK, I must admit I never got philosophical when I got my iPod. LOL. I don't think it's anti social because you don't know the people at the grocery store and you don't go there to hang out or meet people. Now, wearing it to a friend's house or something would be rude but not to places where you will be by yourself even id surrounded by millions.

Oh and get the iPod video. It rocks!!!

Friday, October 13, 2006 8:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous soliloquized...

Hey Colleen,
I never post but read daily. This is my down time and I love your blog. Congratulations, by the way, on your new book. I have been meaning to call.

I agree with Annie. There is no more isolation with an iPod now than there was 20 years ago with the walkman. I remember having this same conversation with my ex. (you know who) I was the one with the walkman on the bus to which he opposed. Given my personality now, if I ever got around to it, I probably would have an iPod myself.

I do feel that if anything, now we are more connected to others with cell phones and computers. So much so, that we yearn (at least I do) for more downtime/private time. Cell phones are like the beepers of the 90's and take away from any private time or personal space we can squeeze in. You cant even go to the potty without being interrupted.

So, if an ipod allows you some personal time to think and relax, even if you are in public.....I believe you are entitled. It is your time.

I spend three days a week getting to know every patient I see. I hear everything from personal tragedies to what people feed their cats. When I am home, I am attending to my kids every demand and need. So, when I am out and about shopping or running errands (as rare as it is without my kids), I want it to be my time. So, I think it would be really convenient to be able to listen to something thought provoking or entertaining while doing every day tasks.

The reason I havent so far, is my stagnation when it comes to new technologies. Yikes, I havent even gone digital.

So go for it....and dont be ashamed. Just dont run someone over while listening to that book or to Sting....or reminiscing.

If anything, mere commercialism and consumerism are propogating the 'me' society. but, is this really new? IPods, if anything, allow us to be more selective to what we are listening to. So, we are better able to filter out the riff raff and minimize the commercialism if we choose. We now have an alternative to radio and TV.

So, go for it. I know for a fact, Colleen, an iPod could not possibly make you of all people antisocial.

Hey....keep up the great work. You are an inspiration. I am so happy for you. I am looking forward to reading your book.

CAJ

Friday, October 13, 2006 9:27:00 PM  
Blogger Colleen Gleason soliloquized...

CAJ! So great to hear from you. Thanks for your good wishes. I hope to see you at the book release party on a date as yet TBD in January. :-)

Mailyn, I wasn't getting philosophical about it until my friend made the comment about the anti-socialism--then she got me to thinking!

But I think those who mentioned that it's a personal thing as to whether we're isolating ourselves, with or without an iPod, is probably realistic.

I guess I end up back to my mom's mantra, and one that's served me well: anything in moderation.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and shared their thoughts. I appreciate it,and it's fun knowing you all through your different points of view.

Saturday, October 14, 2006 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger scribbit soliloquized...

I agree with your friend, I find it interesting that we (collectively) are able to talk with someone on the other side of the world via a chat room but can't be bothered to say hi to our next door neighbor. I see people on dates together coming out of a movie and their both talking on their cell phones to other people. It says, "The person I'm talking to on my cell is more important than you" and it's a reason so many are finding interpersonal relationships hard nowadays--I think. 'Course I'm not sociologist, but I don't think I want my kids sporting cell phones and ipods. A great post and something I may have to post about myself and link to you.

Saturday, October 14, 2006 8:15:00 PM  

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