By Edward Hahn

I gave a Campustown homeless man some Chinese food. He wants to repay the favor: “Wanna buy my video iPod for cheap?”

Although the ubiquitous iPod might make our walks a little more enjoyable, we cannot ignore the implications of stuffing our ears with those white buds. As Apple attempts to advertise the iPod as a product that liberates its listener, we often forget that – unlike those wild dancers – we do not use our iPods in front of a green screen; we use them within a political context.

No matter how we acquire our iPods, the device signifies affluence, sanctioned ignorance and the acceptability of white-collar crime. While some students who cannot afford iPods might feel left out at most, there are others who perhaps feel bereaved. Of course, we can plug in our iPods and effectively silence those who cannot afford the device.

By listening to our iPods, we enter our own fantasyland, where our socioeconomic footprints vanish in the sidewalk; a place where owning and advertising iPods, as well as listening to illegally downloaded music, comes at no cost. I myself often enter this (dis)utopia via my iPod.

Unfortunately, reality can quickly crash the hip new-age party (I’m not talking about MTD buses), as the video iPod – cradled in my homeless friend’s hand – suggests. While I sympathize with the iPod’s previous owner, I hope that we can realize the importance of at least recognizing the political implications of the commodities we all use.

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Of course, we might need to take the ear buds out of our ears if we want to accomplish this. Besides, the music of Nickelback, Pavement and Kanye – whatever you fancy – will be around forever; the sights and sounds of Green Street 2007 are numbered. It’s socially healthy to take them in while we can.

Edward Hahn

Senior in LAS