Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Lobes, Yes. Frontal? Not So Much.

Fuck politics.
Politics wouldn't even be so bad if it weren't full of, well, politicians. Politicians like the speaker of the Minnesota House, Steve "My last name sounds like a secretion" Sviggum, who had the unmitigated gall to warn a liberal faith-based activism organization not to presume to speak on God's behalf. I can't blame him for not listening to his president, but since he said this in answer to a question about how he'd vote on the four main issues the activists cared about, he may want to invest in one of those sviggum-flushing ear-enemas they sell at the Walgreens.
And who needs the manufactured drama of politics anyway, when the common man is more than capable of manufacturing his own tiny, insipid, unnecessary dramas out of the stuff of everyday upscale life? Which is why I'm forced to issue the following memorandum to iPod drama queens YOU ARE DUMB.
Along with that comes yet another tip-of-the-fuck-you to Wired, who apparently have nothing better to do than to seek out the vaguely insecure and broadcast that insecurity to the world at large. It's a shotgun-approach to being ahead of the curve, because if one of these vague insecurities ever snowballs into a national phenomenon, Wired can point to it and say how clever they are. And that's how we get an entire article about people not wanting to wear iPod headphones in public.
Apparently, being seen in public with the trademark white headphones that come packaged with an iPod immediately identifies you as an iPod owner. This may be true. I don't know. While I spend a lot of time on public transportation, none of it is spent looking at the ears of complete strangers, trying to divine their brand preference. Nor do I spend a lot of time scanning the passersby, trying to see which of them might be trying to identify my personal electronics from two seats back. I must be the only one who doesn't give a fuck, though, because there are, by Wired's assertion, a growing community of "closeted" iPod users who want to carry around 20-40GB of music in their pocket, but don't want weirdos staring at their ears. Me, I've set up a custom playlist of text, and tagged it ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"It makes me feel individual to customize it," Godin said. "Even if its just changing the headphones. That's the irony of the whole thing. Most of the people who are Apple's biggest cheering section are people who go out of their way to wear what everyone else is not wearing and eat where not everyone else is eating. They're the kind of people who like to customize their life and feel like they're independent." - Seth Godin, who's put way too much thought into this.
Expressing your individuality through headphones does not make you an iconoclast. It makes you a self-obsessed prick. And, if I were a betting man, a self-obsessed prick with a fair amount of Polyphonic Spree on your hard drive. It's the classic Subculture Asshole Phenomenon, expressed in gadgetry instead of its usual havens of Internet message boards and convention hotel rooms.
Being a member of a subculture does not make you "special". When that subculture grows and starts merging with the culture, ergo, that does not make you LESS "special". And rebelling against the subculture's growth, running away, and starting a private club of one, raging against the white plastic machine, does not then restore your specialness. You're just wasting your own time and money and pissing the rest of us off at parties in the process. That's the other difference between iconoclasts and self-obsessed pricks. The pricks tell you in excruciating detail how they're being unique.
Of course, Wired being Wired, the only self-obsessed pricks referenced in the article are Godin, an "anonymous New Yorker", and a "friend" of Godin's in a story told... by Godin. I believe the friend in question lives in Canada, and thus, you would not have met her.
The rest of the article consists of fashion and trend experts, who are self-obsessed pricks who get paid good money to project their personal opinion onto the rest of the country.* They spent a lot of time reassuring Wired's readers that iPods were still cool and hip, even though you can buy them in Target now, and some people's co-workers are asking if iPods are appropriate gifs for children aged eight and nine.
The only possible valid excuse for ditching the iPod headphones comes from blogger Josh Rubin, who inadvertently provided it while trying to be a white-headphone booster.
"There's a whole white-cord subculture here in NYC. It's like an unspoken brother/sisterhood on the subways and in the streets." I'd swap out the headphones in an instant if I thought it would save me from Rubin and his ilk, who think we're part of some global shared experience because we own the same brand of gear. But why spend $30 or more on new headphones when shouting "Fuck off, technohippie!" is free, and sounds great?
*You know, put like that, I really think I should be checking the classifieds and figuring out how to fake a resume for trend consulting.