Archive for the ‘April 15th-21st’ category

No iPod Please

April 22, 2007

Ok. This is a little over 4 pages but I think it moves.   This is a possible submission for Salon so please be honest.

     Every birthday and every holiday, I receive the same question from my mother.  “Do you want an iPod?” she asks me, grappling for some hint on what I would like to receive.

     She always gets the same answer.  “I really don’t want one, mom.  Really, just get me a gift card to Borders or something.”

     She scoffs, and rolls her eyes, going back to the dishes or the laundry; no closer to an answer than she was a moment before. I really don’t mean to be a pain, in fact I just want to make it easier on her. I just don’t feel the need to carry “1000 songs in [my] pocket,” as the ads first said in October of 2001. 

     I can’t avoid them though.  I see them hanging on women’s back pockets in color like olive green and hot pink, the coolest women with glitter and rhinestones.  I see guys with back packs that cross over their chests with straps carrying a case there.   Even the subways try to tempt me. 

     As I am waiting for the train, I see their ads lining the walls, you know the ones, the ones with the black silhouettes against bright colors with thin lines from the rectangle in their hands to their ears as they pause in motion with hips jutting or arms shot out like they are having a seizure.  The iPod shuffles are stuck on collars or tight jean pockets that only make me wonder about the gender of the wearer.  

     When my lack of enthusiasm for this product comes through, I receive looks that would be better fit for a man wearing a death metal t-shirt to a afternoon of golfing on a country club golf course.  They tell me the facts.  The shuffle can hold up to 250 songs and is half the size of your palm.  The nano, depending on how many gigs you buy, can hold from 500-2,000 songs, and are very light and thin, perfect fit for any pocket.  The original iPod offers up to 80 gigs and even came out with a Harry Potter design at one point. And finally, everyone has an iPod, which could be true considering that about 90 million have been sold already. I get it. It holds many, many songs and it looks pretty.

     Then, much to my dismay, they continue their defense of their newest obsession.  I tally the costs in my head.  “I have a iHome that I can turn on when I take a shower, and its my alarm clock too,” they tell me.  100 dollars right there.  “I got Altec Langsing speakers for my birthday and they matched my white iPod!” another one exclaims.  Depending on the model, that means their parents spent 100 to 250 dollars at least just for some speakers. “With my iPod remote, I can pause things from across the room,” someone claims. Yeah, that’s only after you pay for the required Universal Dock at $39 and the remote for an extra $29.  All these things add up.

     But while people boast that they have their whole play list on their hip, retorts accompanied by complaints I have heard about them flood my mind. Batteries were recalled during the winter of 2003 while some still suddenly fail today.  The Equalizer can easy distort the bass causing a screeching of guitar solos to puncture your eardrums, and this wondrous machine that has “altered the landscape for portable audio players” (PC World) has a failure rate of 13.7%.   Without the additional $59 for 2 year coverage of Applecare, you’re screwed. 

     You wouldn’t believe that it has been redone 5 times and the basis of the design was created only six years ago. The sales from this product also account for half of Apple’s $7.1 billion dollar profits.  Who knows how much of these were spent on replacement iPods and parts. Most people can’t imagine life without it now though, and most can’t go a half an hour without seeing at least one around.  Still, I ask, what is the big deal?

     Now, I did fall under the techno trends at one time.  Believe it or not, I did have an MP3 player that I promptly lost after putting it somewhere.  Even now, I have a Razor, though I admit I got it without charge.

     But when the iPods finally took off in 2004, my younger sister was the first one to beg for one.   College payments were depleting our accounts though, so she couldn’t get one.   Then when the nano came out, she wanted that one, and she finally got it for her birthday, though that was all she got because the price came to about $300 dollars.   My older sister bought one for herself, and my younger brother got one in the past two years and he’s only 12.

     Yet, I am fine with my CD player.  You may look at me strangely as I heft the player in my hand, thinking that I should move with the times and get and iPod.  I tell you this; Believe it or not, I have the attention span to listen to one artist for a long period of time and I do not need to make play lists formatted to my every mood. Most of the musicians I do enjoy can keep me pumped for at least eight songs, rarely any one hit wonders.  Besides if I want a mix, then all I have to do is burn a CD and I am set. 

So while you may rave about the numerous choices you have to delight your ears during the day, I find no yearning for that small white, blue, black, silver, green or pink player.  No matter how long I stare at those frozen poses of dancers, or watch commercials with people dancing down the street with something white peeking out from their pockets, I do not want one.

“Are you sure? Not even a nano?” she asks me again.

“Just get me a gift card or something,” I tell my mother once more.  Hopefully, she will listen.