I was walking to class on East, when I heard a voice start singing some ’90s pop “classic” behind me. I turned around to see some dude with white plugs in his ears belting out the chorus to a Vertical Horizon ballad, or something equally terrible. His eyes were closed as his head swayed soulfully. He HAD to have known that he was 1. Singing out loud, 2. in public and 3. SINGING OUT LOUD.
I looked at the other people around me, but it’s like, they all had white plugs in their ears, were bobbing their heads, mouthing words, consumed in their bubble of iPod glory. I was the only person in the little radius around this kid, who has awful taste in music, to notice. I wanted him to stop, but of course, I was fairly amused. In some twisted way, I think I almost liked it. And if he’s totally okay with singing like this in public, then I’m totally okay with making fun of him in my column.
Every freshman has an iPod, and many upperclassmen have them as well, myself included. And sure, I listen to it from time to time on my way to class. A good song makes the bus ride seem to go by… at exactly the same rate, but at least you have a soundtrack to it. Also, listening to music is a GREAT alternative to listening in on inane conversation on the bus—of which there are many.
Duke should have given iPods to the freshmen and said, “For you, to become even more self-involved and unaware of what’s going on around you.” I would’ve respected that a lot. So am I saying that we should just hold in our innermost desires to let the music move us?
We’re so into what we’re doing in our own menial existence during the day that socializing has become something only appropriate at night. Technology in general has taken away from social encounters. AIM and text messages let people communicate and even fight without interacting whatsoever. Instead of sitting around a table and playing poker with people, some people win $30,000 on PokerStars.com without having to look at the faces of the people they are putting in the poor house. Sweet life.
I don’t even understand the logic in needing music to go to class. I can understand running, studying, sitting. But walking? To class? You’ll get a good one, maybe two songs out of that 50-yard trip. Then you forget to turn it off and you drain your battery, leaving you extremely annoyed and without music for the 50 yards back.
When we put on those precious white buds, we isolate ourselves from everyone else. “I don’t want to be bothered by anybody who doesn’t think I should ‘drop it like it’s hawt.’” The closest interaction we get is a smile or one of those cool head nods that mean, “’sup?”
We’re completely content with moving about our business alone as long as there is music there to accompany us. We don’t need to make eye contact or idle chitchat. We’re so independent that we don’t need it. By listening to iPods on campus, what kind of message are we sending? Nope, don’t really want to talk to you. I’m way too involved in this song that is terrible.
We’re getting more and more cut off from other people with every new technology that comes around, and it must stop. The kid I saw the other day was oblivious and inconsiderate of those that happened to be around him—me. The common courtesy of making conversation on the bus or walking to class is just eradicated because we’re too absorbed in our own iBubble. The moment those ear buds go in, the world becomes whatever is inside our head regardless of what is around us.
So, I propose that we bring back the inane conversations on the bus, and the awkward chats on the pathways. Why? Because without any human contact, we all may as well be singing Vertical Horizon to ourselves.
Sarah Kwak is a Trinity sophomore.
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