Rupert is one of Dad’s first cousins from his mom’s side. As far as I can remember, he has always been very close and very good to my family. When we were children, my sisters and I prefixed his name with “Uncle,” but now that we are adults, we have done away with that. I characterize him as “the cool uncle” in the family. He’s fun, active and trendy, always sporting the newest gizmo and drives a spiffy vehicle. He gives the BEST GIFTS, whether it’s an interesting book or some electronic device. He gives such mind-blowing gifts that even my friends speculate on my behalf and sometimes become more excited than I am about what I might get (you know who you are)! THIS year, he gave me and Anita each a 2nd generation 4GB iPod Nano.

Those of you following my blog will know that I have agonized over whether or not to get the 2nd generation Shuffle. Eventually, I decided against it because I didn’t really need one, didn’t like that fact that iPod products are made to be disposable, and had other priority items to save up for. But I was quite pleased and grateful to get the Nano; it was completely unexpected and “better” than what I wanted in the first place. Mine’s electric blue and happens to match my running jacket!!

There is a flip side: surprisingly, I found myself conflicted and a bit burdened being an iPod owner. By observation, I gathered that having an MP3 player of any sort was pretty high maintenance (in terms of time and money), in spite of the portable convenience it promises. Also, I felt like I was violating some sort of anti-consumerist principle that I *ought* to follow (though who am I really kidding.). Also, for some reason, I found myself a bit embarrassed to be seen in public with that distinctive iPod trademark, the white earbuds. I didn’t like the idea of being possibly thought of as “being one of them,” an adherent to the Apple culture.

(I know some of you think I overthink things, like the way I have done here, but that’s just the way I am. I have an obsessive need to find meaning in everything.)

Anyways, for the first few days of use, I tried to be “like everyone else” that I’ve seen in public carrying around an MP3 device, just to see what the appeal is of having something to listen to all the time or anytime I wanted. Some conclusions:

  • I found that I didn’t like not being able to hear what’s going on in my natural surroundings. I felt unsafe and edgy. If I turned the volume low enough to hear my surroundings, I couldn’t hear the music. If I turned the volume up, it hurt my ears. Therefore, much to my disappointment, using it for commuting is not feasible.
  • Figuring out what to store on my iPod requires a lot of my time. It can fit about 1000 songs. I love music, but I generally don’t have that time to sift through my large CD collection to pick what goes on my iPod. Therefore, I am using not even a quarter of the memory, which feels like a waste. It will take a few months for me to fully utilize the storage space.
  • The Nano is incredibly slim, but fragile. Also, the package was pretty bare bones minimum and didn’t come with any protective casing. Increasing its functionality will require accessorizing, which means spending money that I simply don’t have. Until I’m ready to “invest” more into it, I’m limited to using it at work, in bed, or when I go out for a walk/run.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not complaining or being ungrateful. But, as I suspected correctly in the first place, having an iPod hasn’t made that much of a difference to my lifestyle as the marketing seems to promise. Or I might be more of Luddite than I thought myself to be. Maybe, as I get older, I’m adapting to the technological advances around me less quickly. Or, I have come to have different ideas with what to do with my time and money.