Effects of an I-Pod Generation The iPod has become a very popular musical device for people to entertain themselves when it seems there is not much to do. The iPod has fit itself into a time period in our daily lives that in the past may have been filled with communicating to people. In his essay, “Society Is Dead: We have retreated into the iWorld,” Andrew Sullivan depicts how people have deafened the interpersonal interactions around them with the presence of an iPod’s music. His desire is to have people see how the iPod has, “[shutout] anyone not in their bubble” (377).
I, too, see the effects of the iPod in society through my personal experiences and how it affects us psychologically. I have seen how the iPod has affected social situations that I have come across. The iPod has become a way to pass the so called “meaningless” times that fill our days, but in actuality plugging into the device fills the possible social interactions. If a person is at the gym on a Stairmaster, then the popular thing for them is to kill the monotony of time by listening to music. I frequent the gym often and immediately I know which people I can talk to or shouldn’t, based on their having or not having headphones.
I have met some good friends at the gym by just striking up a conversation with them on the nearby exercise equipment. I see the same thing at school in the computer labs often where people are listening to music. Once I worked in the lab and overheard some people talking about their job that happened to be in my field of work. I was looking for a job and questioned the person regarding their job. Coincidentally, the person knew of a position for hire, and I was working the next week due to this overheard conversation. Many meaningful chance encounters might be gained if the time was filled with an inquisitive mindset rather than an iPod.
Psychology gives us an example of how the iPod can affect our society. Erik Erikson developed a theory concerning human development called the Psychosocial Theory. In his theory, Erikson describes the stage of development of those in their late teens, twenties and thirties as one of social isolation or social intimacy. During this time, social intimacy is described as becoming involved in a community and building relationships within that community that puts the community’s interest ahead of or within one’s own interest.
In contrast, social isolation is described as becoming detached from society or the community’s interest and focusing on oneself. If we are socially isolated due to listening to iPods then we will have trouble finding social intimacy in the daily interactions around us. If we take off the head phones then we find ourselves more able to interject and interact with people. Another example in psychology of the effects of iPods is showing that as isolation from society has become more pronounced, social anxiety has become more prevalent.
According to a study by Kent University, there was a correlation between “the Internet” and an “increased avoidance of feared aspects of face-to-face interactions” (Erwin). This would lead me to believe that there is an increased correlation between using I-pods as a means of avoiding personal interaction like using the internet. According to the study, “Individuals with social anxiety disorder often resolve the conflict between their need for social contact and their desire to avoid painful feelings they anticipate from interpersonal interactions in favor of avoidance and social isolation” (Erwin).
This study hints that social isolation through deafness would help avoid any undesirable interactions with people. According to a famous philosopher, “Society, dead or alive, can have no charm without intimacy and no intimacy without an interest in trifles” (Balfour). Balfour believes that it is the “trifles” or small interactions between people on a daily basis that can lead to intimacy with our surroundings. With the iPod slowly sucking everyone into their own musical fantasy, it should be important for those of us left to see the iPod for what it is and abstain from the effects of societal exclusion.