What’s on your iPod?

*or equivalent mp3 device

I’ve been thinking about iPods and what that says about a person’s identity. A little device launched only about 5 years ago has become one of the must-have items of the decade. It has totally transformed Apple’s business and about 80% of all mp3’s sold are apple iPods.

So why do people want them? Is it because they are easier to use than others. Well, they certainly were when they first came out, but now there are several, such as iRiver clix, with straight forward user interfaces.

Is it because they look cool? Let’s face it, this is probably a big reason. They do look cool, as do Mac’s, with their sleek thin body, shiny back with a iconic apple logo, and they absolute simplicity of just a screen and a wheel. They are cool enough to justify spending more on them than an alternately branded mp3 player. Perhaps that coolness will then rub off and become part of my identity.

Is it because everyone else has one? Maybe a bit.

Or is it because it offers us another way of setting ourselves apart from other people? – not through owning the gadget itself, as everyone else has one, but by defining ourselves by the music we put on it. No-one else will have an iTunes library exactly like mine. They may have some of the same songs – I don’t have anything remarkable, but no-one has an entire collection the same. Through it people can see my playful side (Big & Rich), my spiritual side (Counting Crows), my slightly irritated with the world side (Indigo Girls, Martyn Joseph),  and my laid back early thirties side (Travis, REM, Norah Jones).

I heard of a phenomenon in New York called iPod wars, in which a  on the NY subway walks up to a complete stranger and waves her screen in his face so he can see what she’s listening to. He is supposed to respond. Through this non-verbal transaction they each learn a little about each other. The one listening to the most obscure and edgy track walks away with her ego intact, the other is left to contemplate his miserable little life… or something like that.

We all have this urge to me unique, even though we’re all unique anyway…


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