A student house party, the walls sway to the electronic bounce of the music and the air is thick with sweat and youthful ecstasy. But there is a darker element at play. A anonymous hand reaches through the humid atmosphere and plucks a shiny metallic object from a bedside table…
And that’s the story of how my beloved Ipod was stolen. Five years I had that thing. It saw me through two education establishments, three Prime Ministers, numerous ‘walks of shame’ back home and countless train and bus journeys on three separate continents. It was always there, sitting safely in my pocket, sending glorious pulses of sound into my ever-appreciative ears.
What would I do without it? My Ipod had provided me with music on the move for so long that I had come to regard it as a necessity, nay, a human right. The shock of losing my long-time MP3 Player quickly gave way to anger and I cursed the thieving cretin who had snatched it with such contempt for its owner.
But the anger also gave way. In fact, all the seven phases of loss have tumbled with surprising speed in recent days, to the point where I am now in some kind of absurd loss nirvana. I’m actually delighted that bastard stole my Ipod.
The first wave of acceptance came as I glumly prepared to travel across the London Underground a few mornings ago. I was walking to my local tube station and, as cheesy as this sounds, I realised that I could hear birds singing in the trees. Now, I’m no nature vulture, and I’m not going to compose a romantic sonnet to express my unrequited love for a bird’s whimsical whistling. But those birds sounded bloody good.
Suddenly it seemed that the unexpected departure of my Ipod was not the tragedy I’d foolishly imagined it to be. Aural pleasure comes in many forms and you don’t need a little Steve Jobs in your pocket to be able to appreciate your sense of hearing.
I’m also beginning to discover that I’m definitely not missing all the naggy first world problems that come with owning an MP3 Player. No more will I have to untangle endless loops of earphone wires. No more will I curse the grating bump of the clunky cuboid in my pocket, nor the snap of the wire as it clicks out of the audio input during an already stressful sprint for the bus. The best part is that I don’t have to worry about charging the damn thing all the time.
And now I talk to people on public transport. The frowns of surprise and disgust as I start up a conversation are always unnerving, but more often than not people are happy to have a quick chat. And when they are, it’s usually pretty interesting talking tender. So far, I’ve had an argument about Boris Johnson, been given a crash course in dark matter and got tipped off about a surreal blindfolded restaurant in Farringdon.
If given the choice between those one-off exchanges and listening to Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ for the umpteenth time, I’d have to go for the tube talk. Music is a wonderful thing, but I’d wager that novelty value trumps it for most people.
Certainly for President Obama, who launched a scathing attack on Ipods a couple of years ago, branding them as “a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment”. Whilst his words are a little strong, you can see what he’s getting at. Apple and other MP3 makers sell these products with grandiose advertising and sensational slogans that promise to “revolutionise your existence” and provide “a lifetime of entertainment”, when all they really do is distract you from the beautiful reality right in front of your face every day.
Believe it or not, real life talents are suffering because of this; When was the last time you heard someone whistle whilst walking down the street? World Champion whistler David Morris blames “earphones, Ipods… all that sort of thing” for the decline of his cheery art form, citing the information age as pushing people away from their natural talents and into technological privacy.
There’s also your hearing to think about. MP3 players are safe enough when played at low levels, but how often do you find yourself blocking out the roar of a train by turning the volume up the whole way? If it’s five times a week, then you best get your ears checked out, as consistently listening at 90% plus could see your ears go the same way as Frankie Wilde’s did. “Significant hearing loss” are three words nobody wants to hear, but luckily, if you plug into your Ipod enough, you probably won’t be able to anyway.
The clincher for me though is that I enjoy my music more now that my Ipod has been stolen. I had 60 Gig of incredible tunes on that device, but listened to it so much that I was bored of every single song. A short time without it and it’s unbelievable how the novelty has swept back into my music collection, rejuvenating my love of music and nodding coyly to that sly old phrase; “You can have too much of a good thing”.
And isn’t that the case in so many aspects of our modern life? We want everything, as fast as possible and with minimum effort. As Tabrayz Khan put it in a recent article, we attempt to “produce, consume and shit’ all at once, leaving no space for true appreciation of what it is we’re actually interacting with. Apple and the rest of them would have us believe that we need these shiny devices to gloss over the banalities of everyday life. But the MP3 is just a distraction that stands between us and the splendour crammed into every pocket of the world we live in.
The revolution has come; it’s time to throw away those Ipods and step away from this MP3 insanity. Mind you, if I ever get my hands on the bastard that stole my Ipod…
To Ipod or not to Ipod? Answer the question on Twitter @Ihorrocks379
This article was originally published on Turn On Tune In