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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 01.19.07
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

I, iPodder

How do you start a sentence with "iPod"? Do you use the lowercase, as in "iPods are everywhere," or capitalize, as in "IPod-people have invaded the planet"?

Apple's personal music player has become so popular that all the other brands of players are being called "iPods" too. They're the Kleenex of MP3 players. ("Hey, do you have a spare iPod on you?" "Sure, I have one in my pocket. Don't worry, it's a little wrinkled but it's clean.")

Presumably, iPods were the big item this Christmas. I came to this conclusion the day after Boxing Day when I went skating and it seemed every second person in the arena had those conspicuous white wires hanging from their ears.

And not just kids but adults.

I saw one woman and her considerably older mother sitting on a bench sharing an iPod. I had to wonder what they could possibly be listening to. Tom Jones? In an un-ironic sense?

I shouldn't make fun.

When I got my iPod for my birthday in November, one of the first public places I took it was skating. How many people looked at me skating around and wondered, "What's that old guy listening to? Supertramp? In an un-ironic sense?"

Actually, I've been listening to all kinds of new and unfamiliar stuff thanks to the Internet, where I've found hundreds of free music downloads. These are all legal songs, thanks to countless musicians out there who are willing to give samples of their music away just so they'll be heard. This satisfies me in two ways: a) I like to listen to independent musicians and b) I'm very cheap.

As of this writing, I've added 18 hours of music to my iPod, which means I could listen to it all day and still get a good six hours' sleep.

I have only two gigs on my iPod. (Incidentally, if you loaded only peppy dance music on your iPod, you could say "I have to gigs of jigs." But that would be silly.) I'm trying to be discriminating in what I download. I'm not just ripping CD after CD from my collection. And, at my children's urging, I'm trying not to say "ripping."

But I have been digging my iPod. I wear it when I walk to work or when I'm doing chores around the house. It helps ease the burden, say, of folding laundry, although when preparing a meal you have to be extra careful to make sure the earpieces don't fall into the soup. Don't clean toilets wearing your iPod.

Unlike younger people, I haven't quite mastered the ability to wear my iPod and have a conversation at the same time. For example, while walking one day, I had this exchange with someone as we passed on the street, both of us wearing iPods:

"Mmemm malotmin meppph."

"Pardon?"

"Memmmi phlamam."

"Oh, ha-ha. Yeah."

"Phlarmom?"

This is just one of the criticisms that is part of the inevitable iPod backlash - all these people plugged into their "pods" are merely furthering social isolation.

No doubt, just like we did when the Walkman was introduced years ago, there will be dire tales of people walking in front of cars and (gasp!) trains because they were lost in their musical worlds.

And the idea of music as a social phenomenon - iPods are killing it! Music is something be shared or in some cases inflicted, they'll say. You want people to walk into a room and say "Hey, what is that?" or, in my case, "Good Lord, what is that!"

I'm prepared for the backlash. When the day comes that someone walks up to me as I'm listening to my iPod and accuses me of contributing to a plugged-in world, I'll look that person straight in the eye and say:

"Pardon?"

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