In life it’s often best to keep up with the Joneses. On the practical level, people ask less questions. On the existential level, you’re more well-adjusted. Or betterly-adjusted.
So imagine this: I’m a musician, and I just woke up to the fact that I still don’t own an mp3 player. Pow! How could that be? I love music, and I don’t have an mp3 player!
After a bit of head-scratching, I came up with the following rationalizations for my outstanding mp3 player non-purchase decision:
#10 – Yet another object to dangle along when I leave home.
Does it seem that leaving home takes forever these days? Think of all the little stuff you’re sweating over at each and every home departure.
#9 – I don’t see the point of digitizing and compiling all my music in one place.
I’m (finally!) getting smarter with my computer system back-ups, and make digital copies of everything I can… except music. After years of iTunes use, I realize I actually only listen to a small portion of my iTunes library. Same goes for my CD collection: within the variety I only listen to a small segment, whatever’s relevant to me as a musician.
In other words, in terms of my music habits, there’s vastness in depth, not in coverage.
So – by and large – whatever I get on CD, I keep on CD, whatever I download stays in my iTunes library. And the whole point of having an mp3 player is about having your entire music library at your fingertips, no?
#8 – Self-inflicted noise-pollution seems a little pathetic.
Interesting that Apple should even risk getting sued for not putting an ear damage volume threshhold warning on their pod-thingies. What’s up with you, iPodders?
Seems to me this “self-inflicted deafness” phenomenon has a bit to do with addiction to loud music. People don’t just listen to their music anymore, they are their music. Better, they experience total identity-dissolving fusion with their music, in an act of sheer cosmic union. Just like in the Joy of Sex.
Great way to go deaf.
#7 – I have a lot of other things I need (and would like) to buy, before an mp3 player.
Yes, an mp3 player is in the “luxury expense” category for me, not the necessities. Not even leisure necessities
#6 – My daily commute (work, shopping, etc.) is pretty groovy as is.
Montreal is always pleasant to do the non-motor-vehicle commute through. And you miss a lot of interesting stuff on the way somewhere when you’re in your own little movie.
Not that I’m against having a (personalized) soundtrack for travel. On this topic, I usually prefer European film over American movies, for the following simple fact: as a rule, Euro-flicks give their audiences more emotional space by not filling in every dramatic moment with music.
#5 – I like quiet.
I live in a city. There’s always plenty of aural stimulation going on. My favorite city experiences are: quiet at home, or quiet in the park.
Besides, I grew up an avid reader of books. Reading books requires relative quiet. Now that my internet habits have mostly killed my reading habits, I still relish the (solitary) quiet that a reader grows accustomed to.
#4 – I do other things than turn on music when I get bored.
Even if I do listen to music on a daily basis, turning on the tunes isn’t a reflex for me.
#3 – Everybody seems to have one!
Always a big disincentive for me: mob rule. Oh sure, the variety of the stuff you can listen to on your mp3 player is infinite, but the trend itself seems rather conformist.
Well, perhaps this reaction of mine is a response to Apple’s pervasive and highly-successful iPod marketing campaign(s). And according to the iPod gospel, every self-expressive rebellious individual must have an iPod.
#2 – I’m a (slow learning) musician.
In my experience, listening to music is a more focussed activity when you’re a musician.
Musical recordings communicate a finality which is never there in the process of learning or performance. Therefore, for a musician a recording is primarily a record of musical interpretation, not simply a part of one’s identity and/or cultural experience.
For an experienced musician the act of listening to a recording implies hearing in one’s mind’s ear the rich possiblities of musical interpretation. Recordings are thus often used by musicians as reference media: a recorded piece of music can be a model performance, an archival document, or a learning tool.
As for me, I am a slow learner. I takes me a while to learn new musical ideas and techniques. Because of this, my listening pallette is rather selective, as a rule. I like to paint myself into tiny cultural universes, and dwell within many such universes as the course of my musical learning journey changes over time.
#1 – I have ears and I want to use them. In my daily life.
Ever wish you had earlids?
Perhaps this is one of the major uses of mp3 players: as a psychological filter against one’s environment. Many urban environments are indeed acoustically unpleasant, if not atrocious. Most of us usually adapt to the intensity of our aural and visual environment by focusing our attention on something of interest (i.e. bring a book in the subway), so that everything else becomes white noise.
Therefore, a portable digital audio player can be a great way to tune out your environment, or at least make it seem more pleasant, even more personalized.
As for me, I’d rather take in the ugly with the nice. The risk of tuning out is to live pertpetually in one’s own bubble, or inner trip. Ears have a huge survival value, and I’ve seen to many iPodder pedestrians get into near-accidents on the sidewalk (nevermind the street!) to warrant the daily use of a portable digital audio player with headphones.
And if you’ve every been to Montreal, you know that over 60% the car drivers here are clinically insane. Better to err on the side of caution.
top 10 reasons why I don’t own an mp3 player… yet
Ok, I should have said “yet” right from the beginning. You never know, you never know. Five years ago I swore I’d never get a cell phone, and today I can’t leave the house without it.
To be sure, I don’t mean to come across as a Luddite, fearing mp3 player techno-corruption. And I’ve also bluffed a little so far: my Nokia phone actually has an mp3 player, and I’ve even used it a few times while walking to work, listening to podcasts.
Tried it, but never really adopted it.
So perhaps one day my basic perception will change, but for the moment I still see mp3 players primarily as lifestyle and fashion accessories. And beyond the objections listed above, I believe that in the longer term, it is also my commitment to learning an acoustic musical instrument which will prevent my permanent adoption of just such a device.
But that’s just me. I’d be curious to find out if there are other similarly sensory-biased individals out there who identify with the reasons I’ve listed above in choosing to opt-out of the mp3 player habit. Or alternately, acoustic instrumentalists who just love mp3 players, and couldn’t live without’em!
So, you’ve got an mp3 player? What uses do you make of it in your daily routine?