You’ve seen ’em. They’re everywhere. The kids with those white wires coming out of their ears, under vintage T-shirts, with the excess string wound around a tiny pack fastened to their belt.
The iPod. My original plan was to kvetch about the growing detachedness of people and the falling rate of social interaction due to technological advances, but with “Little GodZilla” in my palm, I decided it wouldn’t be fair to lambaste a growing trend when I take part in it. That’d be like nagging your friend to see a drug counselor when you’re hitting your roommate’s bong.
I picked up a Green Mini a few days ago, and I love it. I loaded some Marvin Gaye, Elefant, and Laili Puna onto GodZilla, left my bike keys at home (the tires are flat anyway) and took a walk. Though the headphones hurt like hell due to my irregular ear curvature, the experience was most pleasurable.
As I’m walking up Embarcadero and through Pardall Road, rockin’ out to “Inner City Blues,” my headphones start to function as some sort of magnet, drawing the attention of other iPod users nearby. It’s as if I’ve joined some sort of digital music cult where no one talks to each other. We sincerely want to smile and nod at each other, but the music blasting in our ears prevents us from engaging in proper conversation. I’m part of this invisible “communal groove” I never knew existed until I put speakers in my head and kept my mouth shut.
I’m starting to wonder if I’m addicted, finding any menial task a perfect excuse to listen to my iPod. While washing dishes, reading, karaoking – not recommended – and even on a date. She never called back, but I didn’t care. My impending fear is that my interaction with people is going to decline further and further until I dread all types of normal human conversation. Now, I have people skills, got tons of friends on Thefacebook, but have become slightly hostile to people while I’m listening to music. Here’s a typical scenario:
“Hey Aaron! Have any plans for tonight?”
“What?” Maybe they’ll go away.
“Do you want to-”
“Can’t hear you. Got my iPod in.” Tap headphones for emphasis.
“If you would just give me a second to – ”
Shit. He really wants to talk. “Hi. What’d you say? Oh, thanks but no thanks. I hate bowling. Later.”
So what’s next? What new limits to human interaction will Apple and cell phone companies invent? I’m happily waiting, thought it’s a mixture of excitement and sheer terror. What I really want is an Away Message you can post on your forehead that reads “I went Away. You should go there too.” Though that would probably limit the number of people I meet, it would keep out the annoying ones. Until that comes, I’m keeping the headphones in and staying in the cult. We have meetings every day. Nobody says a word.
Aaron Small is a Daily Nexus staff writer.