I am an iPod zombie too. This Times of London article points out some of the disadvantages of people wearing iPods – both on an individual level and on a group level.
I concede these. There are days when I’ve forgotten to bring it along or recharge the batteries, and I am amazed sometimes by how much interesting background noise there is to hear. Birds, leaves rustling, snatches of conversation on the footpath, bus or train.
On the other hand, sometimes there aren’t any interesting or appealing ambient sounds. Sometimes it’s just the white noise of traffic.
I definitely use the iPod more in Sydney than I ever did in Hobart. Why is it more of a big city thing? Is it peer pressure, being more reliant on public transport, the busier and more stressful lifestyle?
Listening to music is an escape from the drudgery of the world. After a long busy day in the office, and faced with a grueling commute – it is nice to simply tune out and almost be somewhere else.
Yes, I can see why it isn’t a good thing to have a society where everybody is enclosed in their own personal musical cocoon. On the other hand, this is also a reaction to other things going on in society. If the people who are soliciting donations for charities, selling credit cards or just begging are going to be more upfront about interrupting me – when this isn’t welcome – then I am grateful for anything which makes this more difficult. Acting as if I am in an iPod trance is one way of shielding myself from this.
It’s possible that iPods and other mp3 players are creating a world where people are unaccustomed to silence and where abundance of music is taken for granted as just a background.
It doesn’t have to be like this. It’s also possible that the option of having constant music will help us appreciate deliberate silence.