Thursday, 29 September 2011


The MP3 player dominates the Western world - BBC
BBC News Magazine on 27 September posted an article entitled “Has the iPod made us anti-social?”, by

The story discusses whether iPods or MP3 players could make people isolated from their surroundings and society. I share the opinion of the Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon, who writes that “young people have grown up to be ‘plugged in’ to their iPod, rather than relating to their surroundings”. This is not simply a lack of interaction with their surroundings but with the values nourished from relationships in communities.

Here Thierry Henry has his headphones in the "you may
talk to me" position - BBC
Let’s see the photo of Thierry Henry with his headphone in the ‘you may talk to me’ position in the article. I do not know whether his behaviour is normal and could be acceptable in a western society; but in the Asian culture, it shows a lack of respect for the audience or who ‘may talk to him’. 

Asian nations believe that western societies appreciate privacy and individualism, and it seems that the iPod or MP3 player allows such values to be practiced in public. Prof Bull argues in the latter part of the story that the iPod hasn't caused this move from public to personal space; it is just reflecting a trend. Today people work out to their own playlists in the gym rather than all hearing the gyms' tunes. But Prof Bull does not believe people are becoming anti-social.

We should take a look at the comments of the story:

“I am glad that my headphones remove me from normal society, if you had ever spent the 2 hour journey home on the 11C bus in Birmingham, you'd be glad for overly loud headphones to drown out the peons.”

“Apple is a prime example of this marketing vision. They advocate their products will increase your personal freedom, enhance individuality, and give you more opportunity for self expression and autonomy...”

“I wouldn't view this apparent antisocial-ness as a bad thing...”

It would be argued that the iPod is not only reflecting a trend, as Prof Bull notes, but also speeding it up.

This video was made by a student. It emphasises the need of human companionship instead of being isolated from society.

                                                                                             Source: YouTube

In Asian societies, individual and social values are built on the relationship between people. It might be an idea for people to think about when discussing the impacts of digital entertaining equipment on themselves and their society.

In the story, the author also quotes an opinion from Andreas Pavel, inventor of the personal stereo, that: “it was like a dream... you are putting a soundtrack to life so that it becomes like a film”. 

Life is, nevertheless, not simply a film that we are watching. It is where we are acting.


  1. Really agree with this comment about “young people have grown up to be ‘plugged in’ to their iPod, rather than relating to their surroundings." The modern world has many distractions and personally enjoy time away from computers and other form of entertainment.

  2. Thanks Alex! The problem, I think, is that the iPod or other digital equipments have advocated individualism. In our culture, it is not positive trend.

  3. very interesting....
    but i feel that as much as I love being 'plugged in' all the time - whether walking, on a bus, driving - its true that it is leading to us interacting less with a lot of people or engaging in conversations. Increasingly, even on family trips or friends hanging out, during long journeys people plug themselves in and get lost in their own world and conversation just dies in the middle.

    I wonder how this will affect children who are currently around 10 years and who will grow up with this trend.

  4. Thanks Sabby. I think one of the most important skills that parents want to train their children is communicating to others. It is not easy and take time.
    It is now much more difficult as children are spending more time with what makes them separate from their surroundings.