tune in…drop out?

I read this article today about how ipods are changing the way we experience our environment.

It was funny to me because as I walked amidst the UT campus this weekend, it was amazing to me how many students were attached to either an ipod or a cell phone. I think I only saw a handful of these youthful undergraduates opening their ears to the world around them. I also did not see a single group of people “walking and talking”.

For the record, I own several ipods and we are a five ipod/two person family. Itunes has changed the way I teach music and so has my ipod dock. I also could not function properly at this point in my life without my cell phone. I don’t have a problem with college students owning or using these devices on a regular basis.


I recall all of the wonderful sounds I encountered walking amongst my college campus seven years ago. Clicking feet, rushing water, wind, the ever present construction site but most of all the conversations with friends. I did not have a single class in which I was the only music person there as we tend to travel in packs. Ah the lamenting, exuberation, and commiserating that we did from those very brisk walks from Fine Arts to the Union or all the way out to Garrett-Strong for science or government.

What do we miss when we plug in on the subway? What do we miss when we listen to the same 5000 songs but nothing new or no NPR? What do we miss when we don’t get to hear the sounds of the earth around us, like rustling leaves or flying planes or even honking cars? What part of humanity do we miss when we tune out?

Or perhaps that is the point. Perhaps, we are becoming a more insulated population, more introverted and more able to disconnect from the onslaught of 24 hour news that shouts at us reminded us that the world is not quite uptopian.

I will embrace my technology and tune in for my 5000 songs, my podcasts from Princeton, and my workout mixes. But perhaps I will also tune out of technology from time to time and tune in to the world around me.

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