Virtual Voices

iPod reservations


Until I started walking around New York City and noticed that every third or fourth person seemed to have one, I was blissfully unaware of the popularity of iPods. When this late adapter walked into the Apple Store the other day to buy an iPod Nano, I likely became one of the last of my friends to buy one of the devices. I had resisted over the years mainly because I have psychological issues about paying $150 or more for a something barely larger than a credit card.

On April 9, 2007, Apple announced that the 100 millionth iPod had been sold, making it the fastest selling music player in history. According, during its July 21 earnings report, Apple announced iPod sales had declined since last year, but at just 7 percent. That still meant that 10.2 million units were sold, and millions and millions of people walking around with ear buds.

I have a few concerns about introducing this device into my life. I have yet another device to worry about in terms of me losing it or someone stealing it. Adding a cell phone to the wallet and keys I already carry around is burdensome enough. Plus, how are ear buds going to affect my hearing in the long run? I am so paranoid about making my hearing loss worse, I'll likely turn the volume down so much that I can barely hear the music.

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Is this going to make me less of an extrovert and more of an isolationist? When my iPod is on and I'm lost in a world of music and podcasts, am I going to stop talking to strangers? I used to regularly strike up conversations with people I don't know and eventually get to the topic of religion. Now I don't have to talk to anyone while I'm watching my nephew's soccer game or walking through the park. I can also freely ignore the beggars I see nearly every day because I can act like I don't hear them saying, "Do you have any spare change."

I was trying to imagine Jesus plugged into his iPod mediating on the Psalms and walking right past all those folks asking him for help. In some ways it is a ridiculous question to ask: "Would Jesus have an iPod?"

I am aware, like all other technologies, that this is not a matter of "if" but of "how much," "how loud," "when," and so on. The great irony of acquiring new technology to enhance my quality of life is that the devices do nothing but bring on new complications.

Anthony Bradley
Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of theology and ethics at The King's College in New York and serves as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. He is author of Aliens in the Promised Land and Liberating Black Theology. Follow Anthony on Twitter @drantbradley.


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