Today I read an article by Andrew Sullivan. His sentiments that the world was devolving into a self-contained, emotionless, iWorld through the ability to lose yourself–and the world around you–in your iPod, got me to thinking. I wrote him an e-mail from my perspective and I am going to reprint the bulk of it here.
At first, reading the article, I totally agreed with you. We have devolved into our own little microcosms. Only, our microcosms are no longer accurate representations of the world at large. They are hand-picked, selective versions of our world. We have succumbed to the infinite choices we have everyday and have retreated to what is familiar. There is much talk lately of a “nesting” phenomenon in our society and part of that is this retreat into ourselves–Our iPods, Our iWorlds, as you put it.
But then I thought again. Your vision of the white-wired people is one that is not echoed across the country. Across the country, this isolation has been happening for decades. The difference is, outside of Manhattan, the machinery is bigger. Out here, we isolate ourselves with our cars. We have been alone for a long time now. We get in our cars in our garages, not ever exposed to the elements; we drive to work, we drive to dinner, we drive to our friends’ houses, all in a 5-passenger cocoon that rarely has 5 passengers.
But, I do not feel separated from society, in fact, lately, I feel more involved in it. My involvement in the blogosphere has allowed my liberal views to be heard from my ultraconservative corner of the Lone Star State. I have been able to find a community. I have made friends with people who have expanded my views of the world. Perhaps I choose to read mostly liberal blogs, but from my perspective, from my conservative back porch, that is an expansion of the world I see on a daily basis, rather than a loss.
And as for the actual iPod, the way I am seeing it used around me is more for expanding musical tastes than limiting them. The local radio stations have a very limited rotation, but my friends’ iPods, have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 songs combined–songs that I would not listen too if they weren’t carrying their iPods in their pockets. They bring the little white record stores with them when they come over, and we plug one into the stereo, and share what new music we have found. Or what old music we have found. We expand our world by two or three megabytes at a time.
And both, the iPod and the blogosphere are, in their own ways, changing the industries they are spawned from. The blogosphere is beginning to find a niche as a media watch dog, making our reporters and producer more responsible for their actions. Hopefully producing a more balanced and fair view of the world.
The iPod is beginning to impact radio, and make the big execs see that the masses don’t need them to decide what good music is. In fact, locally, we have a radio station that sells itself as an MP3 player on your radio, playing a random mix of music like what you might find on you iPod. And they claim you will never hear the same song twice in the same day—this would never have happened 10 years ago. These changes are for the better, not worse. So perhaps you shouldn’t be so quickly concerned about the white-wired people purging the world of emotional thought. Perspective can change everything in life.