Pardon me?

What did we all do before iPods?

Yesterday I went to Berekeley for a Rolfing session (my ass still hurts and Lisa the Rolfer can’t figure out why). Lisa and I rode down together to see a guy who specializes in nerves. The appointment was as fun as it sounds—some man poking at the nerves in my ass. This is all beside the point… I digress.

Lisa had plans to stay the rest of the afternoon in the city, so I decided to take the train home. (First train ride… what fun!) 

I walked up to the benches in front of the boarding area to wait for the train and every person sitting there, maybe 10 of them, had on earphones. No one looked up, no one made room.

Not sure why this bothered me yesterday, because it’s something I notice everyday. And I am not innocent—I often listen to music at the store or while traveling. It’s can be so disconnecting, isolating to those around.

Allie goes through phases of wearing her earphones continuously, not even wanting to take them off for dinner. You can’t have a conversation with her, can’t even get her attention without yelling or waving like a crazy person (lightly touching her shoulder would be much too easy).  

Of course, this has an impact on her as well: she doesn’t read, socialize with us, go outside, draw, or just plain daydream.

As a kid, I was super into music, too. I would sit on the floor in the living room in front of the giant speaker and listen to Neil Diamond on the 8 Track. In later years it was recording myself singing along to “Islands in the Stream.” And still, I look forward to the rare times I’m home alone and I can blast the neighborhood with Patty Griffin, Over the Rhine, or Ray LaMontagne. So if it’s just the music thing, I get it. 

But I think it’s more than that. Ironically, I think we’re all so over-stimulated that maybe part of what we really crave is solitude, inner quiet, and a few moments to ourselves. Instead of seeking seclusion and inner connection to meet those needs, we withdraw and detach from the outer world, cutting ourselves (and others) off from communicating or relating. 

Beyond that, are we dependently entertained? Socially inept and apathetic? Totally self-absorbed?


Well, no great insights here, and I’m not read to hang up own my headset. Be warned that this post may be just the first in a series about modern-day techno consequence. To be followed by, “What did we do before cell phones?” and “What did we do before the Internet?”


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