Thursday, October 9, 2008

mp3s and mass transit

Since I don’t work anymore, I’ve started riding mass transit.  And it’s great. 

            For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m doing something good for the environment, I’m saving money, and I get time alone with my ipod.  Those three things rarely coalesce into one grand thing.

            But I’ve started noticing something.  Everyone on the bus is in some way or another, isolating themselves from everyone else on the bus.  I can’t say that I blame them; some of the odors and crazy eyes that I’ve experienced on the bus make me want to curl up inside of my ipod from time to time.  But it also raises some pretty obscure and philosophical questions about the nature of our shared reality.

            First, there’s the case of cultural music.  With the spread of itunes and digitally downloaded music, I no longer have to listen to the music that some corporately sponsored entity deems as good music.  I can let my heart run wild at the itunes store or download cheap mp3’s from my favorite band directly from their website.  So while we all operate in the same space for a while as we leave downtown on our happy way to the suburbs, we can enjoy our own personalized music choice to our heart’s content.

            Second, no one looks at anyone on the bus.  There again, I can’t really blame them for this, as drunks start getting on the bus at about 3:00 p.m., and you can’t really tell what someone is going to do to you while riding on the bus, so for the most part, it’s safer to put some sort of blinders on and sit there with your head down, waiting for the moment when the bus pulls finally to your own stop.  It’s like society’s limos for poor people.  You get driven where you want to go, and if you have a laptop, iphone, magazine, newspaper, or whatever, you don’t ever have to acknowledge anyone else sharing the same space as you. 

            I don’t know which I like more, judging people for doing it, or judging myself for playing solitaire and listening to Xavier Rudd while we pass by Wendy’s and Arby’s.  Just wait until that moment when you see someone that you kind of know getting onto the bus with their ipod earbuds locked and loaded.  Try to get their attention.  I dare you.


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