The iPod Generation

You see them everywhere. They’re on the street, on the train, in the malls, on your floor in the office building, or even in the same room where you work.

They are among us.

For all you know, you might even be one of them.

Welcome to the iPod generation. Today it is not uncommon to see people who live and walk about with white (or black, or blue, or whatever color) cords hanging from their ears almost everywhere they go. They go about in their personal bubbles, sometimes unaware of what’s happening around them. They walk around in their own, artificial personal spaces, with their personal “digital noise reduction systems.” Outside life is shut out. Sometimes, rightly so, for environmental distractions can be sure to derail one from concentrating on whatever more important thing he or she is working on or thinking about.

Oh, and it doesn’t have to be an iPod that your typical earphone-wearing individual is using to be part of this set. It’s just that the term “iPod” has been too closely related with “MP3 Player,” which is actually a misnomer in itself, as iPods use the AAC format (by preference), nor is MP3 the only format that most other players would support.

So are you one of them?

Or one of us, rather–I’m guilty, as charged!

On the Road

For the introvert like myself, I find walking around in my own personal DNRS ideal. I don’t have to deal with noise from other people and the environment, and what’s even better, my wearing of earphones seems to give a signal to people saying back off–I’m enjoying my own self-existence and not exactly available for chatting right now!

Say, I’m strolling along some busy sidewalk and I bump into an acquaintance I’d rather not talk to at the moment, I could always just stare into space and conveniently pretend to be unaware of his existence. Hey, after all I’m listening to my favorite tracks and would rather not be disturbed by useless chit chat.

Then again, I might be on the receiving end of this cold-shoulder treatment sometime, but I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. I’ll just go and ignore away, myself!

At Work

Say, you’re busy coding, or you’re on the verge of your next mathematical breakthrough, or you’ve finally found a cure for the heebie jeebies. Then your boss suddenly pops up. Drive-by management, some call it.

Being the lone wolf, you hate distractions and any single disturbance would derail your concentration and make you lose that magic moment. And your boss or some colleague incessantly popping up would be sure to kill any of that magic left in you (unless perhaps he or she is cute–or probably more so, depending on the situation).

Listening to music on earphones or headphones is one good way to ignore those distractions (but could sometimes be a distraction in itself, though). Again, having those white, black, blue, pink, or rainbow-colored earphones dangling from your ears would be sure to give that Go away! signal, or at least help you pretend you’re physically there but not exactly on the same plane of consciousness.

At Home

Teenagers love it. Probably part of growing up, along with teenage angst, is that stage when you just want to ignore your entire family. And instead of covering your ears screaming “Yada, yada, yada …” while your mother gives off yet another sermon about how you should do your homework first before heading off to play on your spanking new Xbox 360, you could just turn up the volume on your portable music player, smile, and say in the smiling-est, sweetest voice “Yes mum. Of course. I love you.” Problem solved.

Then of course, spouses can do this and say “Yes, dear. Of course. I love you,” too (just before dad heads of to play on his spanking new Xbox 360).

At Play

What play?

Pretty soon, not only will we have teensy speakers dangling off our ears. Even better, we will all have our brains directly plugged into some uber-high tech interface, and we would be projecting ourselves in a virtual world, where we get to interact with everyone else (or coose not to, as may be the case). In this world, there will be no physical play because we will all be plugged in, powering some artificial-intelligence system in a matrix-like fashion!

Yes. Our devices are evolving ever so quickly, and invading our personal lives at an alarming rate, and changing our social habits along the way. There is a thin line between using technology as a tool for making life easier and better, and being too dependent on technology–as a slave to it!


The Matrix has you!

Suddenly, I don’t feel like wearing my earphones anymore.

Images from sxc.hu and matrix-architect.de

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