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by Gabe Knox

I ran into a friend of mine the other day, and was excited to tell her about the Audio Engineering Society convention going on in New York City.

So I’m all busy telling her about the NI’s revolutionary new Guitar Rig 2, and she’s just kind of eyeing the floor.

Now, I’m being incredibly witty and insightful, but her only contributions to the conversation are the odd grunts of “un-huh” and “yeah.” In fact, she barely looks at me. Then I notice the tiny, white iPod ear buds. And this isn’t the first time this has happened.

In the last few months I’ve noticed a huge increase in the number of people walking around campus with the trademark headphones coming out of their pockets, and a decrease in the number of people willing to talk to me for more than two seconds.

Perhaps the iPod really is the death of conversation. Haven’t we all been sickened by the couple on the subway sharing one iPod and staring blankly into space in total silence, their post-modern ennui so pronounced that they can only communicate through song titles.

Granted, that girl was never going to listen to me, and that couple were never going to talk to each other. The only difference is now they can not talk to me and not listen to each other with a soundtrack featuring Fat Joe.

But technology replacing human interaction isn’t new, so why is everyone blaming iPods and “iPod culture?”

Well, iPods aren’t a piece of technology like TV or cars that have cultures built around them. They’re tools, like a hammer. Simple in design, but they get the job done. However, we all know how dangerous a hammer can be in the hands of unsupervised toddlers — especially ones with horrible taste in music.

In reality, these sleek MP3 players bring out the worst in people. And of course, the bad etiquette our friends and favourite couple over there exhibited isn’t the only example of this.

People are burning hundreds of hard-earned dollars on the new and improved version, five months after they dropped $300 on an iPod Mini. Then eBay gets flooded with the reject models, which are all but fresh out of the box.

Oh what — Mini’s aren’t small enough for you? You want a Nano, now? Did you not get the memo? They recalled them because their screens crack and scratch really easily.

Or oh, so you want an iPod 60 GB instead of 40 GB? Have you even listened to every song you own? I bet you haven’t even listened to that mash up I sent you of Ciara and the Hamsterdance song.

The bottom line is, if you already own an iPod, don’t buy another. The same as you wouldn’t buy another hammer if you already had one. Granted… they’re really fucking cool. And maybe that’s reason enough on its own. Just please don’t get the stupid arm band accessory.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the batteries on my $3 Value Village walkman just ran out so I have to go recharge them.

Gabe Knox got addicted to Pac-Man at age 2 and has been working on a healthy, pixeltan ever since. He is currently developing software for the Bloorview Macmillan Children’s Center’s music program, and is enrolled in Radio and Television Arts in his spare time. Knox’s technology column will appear bi-weekly in the Eyeopener. 

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