Somebody has designed a smart little sticker for the iPod Shuffle that signifies whether or not you’re prepared to have a conversation!
This design is a visual interpretation of one aspect from my current study about Acoustical Privacy: the iPod as a potential indicator for “non-communication”. Through a playful approach the sticker either strengthens the wish for privacy but also offers the opportunity to break up the silence with the direct demand for conversation.
It is a bit of a dilemma for me. I have to confess that one of the reasons I bought an iRiver was so that weird people wouldn’t talk to me. One time on the train back from Edinburgh this weirdo next to me kept on going on about how the conductor screwed him out of 5p for his ticket, and how the conductor must have a Porsche because it all adds up. He kept doing this at random points of the whole journey. I thought, “If you really care that much about your five bloody pence, why didn’t you tell the conductor?”
If I remember correctly, I was trying to do some fairly important reading at the time. Or maybe it was just the Student newspaper. But whatever, it was a whole lot preferable to listening to this freak going on about his five pence. That was the moment that I decided to buy an MP3 player.
Part of the intention was to get more reading done on the train, but I don’t think it works. I usually just end up staring out the window like a complete idiot, or just thinking about things, dreaming up some awesome blog posts, working out the meaning of life, the universe and everything, or just sleeping.
The trouble with being plugged into your MP3 player all the time is that, although you avoid conversations with weirdos, you could also miss out on having cool conversations with cool people. Or maybe you look like you aren’t prepared to help somebody who’s looking for directions or doesn’t know if they’re on the right train (even though I am happy to help). Or if somebody sees you in the street and they shout at you, but you can’t hear them. Or if somebody wants you to taste some organic porridge.
It’s pretty anti-social. But then again, I love listening to music, and most of my listening time is probably when I’m commuting these days. Plus, if you’re spending about three hours just travelling, listening to music is probably the easiest way to stop you from going completely insane.
I’m not sure about the sticker approach though. To make it so explicit that you really don’t want to talk to anybody would just be down-right rude and, well, anti-social. To display a message saying you want people to talk to you would just look desperate.