Saturday, February 26, 2005

On the iPod Cult(ure):

Walkmen came and we've got the iPod. Personally, I don't see what's so great about them. When you're living in a big city, it's good to have your wits about you. Especially in a city known for its horrible drivers (who are most likely otherwise engaged, so not paying attention to pedestrians, other drivers, stoplights, etc.)

This reader at Andrew Sullivan's site in another "bohemian section" of Boston hits on something that I've seen quite a while ago - a broader culture of isolationism.

Allied to the iPod thing is the taking your laptop out on dates trend. For example, my roommate has told me about his desire to buy a laptop so he can sit and surf the net in the Davis Square cafes. I think that that is the saddest thing in the world. Aren't cafes places to go to meet people and socialize? Why go out and take up a table somewhere if all you are going to be doing is browsing Match or playing Myst? Though I used to spend a decent amount of time in different cafes here, I find that it's just too annoying to do so anymore as the vast majority of the seats (if not all of them) tend to be taken up by people spread out with their laptops. Generally if I decide I want a coffee, I get one to go and sit in a park or I make my own. The places in my neighborhood (Somerville) just aren't friendly or even relatively pleasant to an un-plugged-in person anymore.

Montaigne used to talk about cultivating a petite arrière boutique so that, even if you were in a crowded room, you could enjoy the benefits of solitude. Boston society (and maybe all urban society?) has gone way beyond that into what seems to be an aggresively antisocial mode. We seem to be all "back shop" and no retail space - no public face forward. No space for interaction. Heck, we can't even get it together to attempt to play together (nicely or otherwise) anymore.

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