Pointless Progress or Why I don’t want an ipod touch

Blog No. 50

I have an ipod.  It was a gift to myself when I went away for teacher’s college.  My family has always been pretty big into music and my collection of CDs at the time was in the low hundreds.  If I added what my brother had it was more than double that.  The prospect of dragging all those CDs to London (Ontario) and trying to find room for them in my tiny apartment was not a pleasant one.  So I shelled out three hundred dollars for an ipod classic and spent the better part of a week loading the music off my CDs onto my computer.  It was 80 GB (gigabytes) of space and I had plenty of room for all my music.  The thing was amazing; one small device had more space than my first laptop.  I still have it and though it is out of room and the battery doesn’t last as long as it used to, I have no desire to buy a new one.  Mostly because there aren’t nearly as many options as there used to be.

Most ipods have become touch models, which are basically iphones without the phone part.  I do think they are really cool devices, but I’m in the market for large storage and have no desire for bells and whistles.  I can still get an ipod classic (and now they are 160 GB) but I can’t justify spending the money when I have a device that still does the job.  What bothers me though (and something has to bother me, I’m writing a blog post after all) is that there are no other options for me.  Progress has moved the ipods into an area where phones exist instead of where discmen used to be.  Phones are so advanced and have so much space that many people don’t need dedicated music players anymore.  But I want (and often use) my entire music collection at my fingertips.  I find myself asking why they went and changed the ipods in the first place but then I remember that I didn’t get the first generation myself.  There is probably a guy out there who wondered why they even bothered changing the first one.  Who really needs a new menu system and a colour screen?  It just uses more battery.  That poor guy doesn’t even have the limited options I have.

It has something to do with everyone having his or her own preferences and needs but when is progress too much or just a money grab?  I lived in the VHS era and had a pretty substantial collection of my own (though my parent’s tape collection dwarfed mine).  Back in the 90s I was excited for DVDs.  Here was a new technology that was going to add a lot to my movie watching experience.  I think I was most excited for no more rewinding, but it was also a loss-less video with better sound and picture and extras on the disc.  I didn’t like the prospect of buying my collection over again, but I embraced the change.  My parents were a little slower to the change but once it became apparent that they wouldn’t have a lot of options they made the switch and so did everyone.  But then Blu-ray came along.

Here was a new disc type that, though it could hold more information and therefore have even better picture and sound, neither my parents or I bought into it.  It was too much of another change too soon without enough of an upgrade.  It was replacing a disc that still worked with another disc that was more expensive and had pretty much the same thing on it.  I couldn’t justify it, I didn’t want to start buying all over again.  It was progress with no point.  At least to me.  Plenty of other people I know have made the switch, but now with digital storage so much better and internet speeds on the rise it’s even easier to just get a Netflix account and/or store your media on a hard drive.

I suppose I nullified my own argument (or at least I upgraded it).  I have to admit that sometimes there is a benefit to progress and upgrades bit it is always annoying.  There is always something to get used to or to learn and when the benefit is small or negligible it doesn’t make a lot of sense.  It fells like upgrading things even though they work.  My brother and I like to play video games together and we are always flummoxed when we go to play the sequel to a game we enjoyed and everything from the look and feel to the controls are different.  My parents can’t stand it when their email is upgraded.  What they had worked and the changes are just another thing for them to learn.  When things change people tend to get used to it but some features are gone, some new ones are complicated or even pointless.  Sometimes though, you end up with something even better than it was before.  I can’t imagine using email the same way it was handled in the 90s and using a discman would be a pain now that I have an ipod.

My whole argument is looking at just the scope of my life too.  I can imagine that the gramophone raised a few eyebrows along with the car and the TV.  I once lived in a house without a computer.  Not a big deal for anyone older than me but a crazy thought to those younger.   Now I have dozens.  Even my ipod is a computer, and its only function is to store and play music.  Now I’m faced to admit that this whole post (or even blog) is as pointless as the progress I was deriding.  Progress is bigger than people and can lead to some amazing things, but in the scope of people it has the risk of being perceived as pointless and annoying (because sometimes it is).

4 thoughts on “Pointless Progress or Why I don’t want an ipod touch

  1. Christian Laforet

    Yeah, I’m right there with you. I am happy with my phone which only makes calls and texts. I still buy the occasional CD and pretty much refuse to watch a movie online. But I think it’s because our generation was born right on the lip of the digital age. In grade ten I took computers and it was like the third year they offered it, before that it was typing class with typewriters!!! But then all of a sudden we are thrust into this world of digital things but in our case we are not quite young enough when it happens to fully forget the old ways but not so old that we reject the change outright. It makes me kind of uneasy to know that my kids will only know a world where entertainment is exclusively found in digital files, it makes it seem so disposable.

  2. I suppose every generation has seen its advance in one way or another. Just think, our grandparents saw TV being invented. I think we are particularly lucky to have lived in a pre-digital (or at least completely digital) age. We have skills that still apply online but are not as easily developed there. Even simple things like knowing how to do research in a library can be an advantage in trying to do the same thing online.
    I think one of the many (many) important things to keep in mind while raising a child in any age, but especially in the digital age, is to remember that it is your job to raise them, not any device and you have to do your best to instil an understanding of what’s really important in life.
    Like you said the other day in the writer’s meeting, you have to be an example for your children.
    Of course I don’t have kids, so what the heck do I know?

  3. With this, I also find the concept of having to upgrade to the newest edition of that technology ridiculous. I enjoy my smartphone, however, I did not by one until my old cell phone broke and could not be repaired. I plan on using this one until it’s toast, as well. I don’t see the need in having to buy the latest iPod, or cell. Computers – the only reason I can understand having to buy a new one, is if you cannot upgrade it any longer, and it cannot perform the functions you need/want it to do (for computer gamers, this can be an expensive want).

  4. I think that there is nothing wring with wanting to have something new and flashy, but there is a problem when you have to have everything new and flashy. I love my tablet, I got the newest one with all the best stuff. But there is going to be a newer one with better stuff probably in a month. I am happy with the one I bought and don’t intend (like you said) to get a new one until this one no longer performs the tasks for which I bought it.

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