Seattle: iPod City


The iPod truly epitomizes Seattle culture, or at least a particular facet of it. It’s everything Seattlites want to be: brilliant, simple, artful, hip, cutting edge, distinctive, outwardly straightforward yet bursting with potential. At moments it seems as though a discrete white headphone cord is exactly the accent a Seattle street scene desires.

But for me the iPod also epitomizes one of the sadder facets of Seattle culture. While its outward face is friendly and inviting, the music is only for the owner. It smiles outwards, but its true gifts are focused inwards. As we give the engrossed iPodder a respectful distance we admit that the iPod means less, not more friendly engagement with other people.

I’m ambivalent on this subject, because I’ve found both extremes in Seattle. Seattle has a reputation for being a friendly city, yet it also has a reputation for being cold. People who’ve been here for a while complain that they have dozens of great acquaintances, but have been unable to make friends. Is this true? Are they perhaps just not open enough to what Seattle has to offer? Or are Seattlites truly a little bit standoffish – like the iPod, welcoming but ultimate private.

1 Comment so far

  1. Kelly (unregistered) on October 17th, 2005 @ 12:08 pm

    Definitely true for me – I have very few close friends. But honestly, it’s better here than it was in Reno or Eugene. I think people just aren’t terribly accustomed to making friends outside the sphere of school (and I know that going back to school has increased my friends base exponentially).

    I think Colleen had an interesting commentary on iPods last week, wondering what people are listening to. For me, it engenders more interest in people, not less… It’s sort of like a book – you know it’s there, you might get a snippet of it, but it gives you a tiny glimpse into someone’s life. What kind of iPod do they have? What does it say about them? Do they even have an iPod, or just the headphones?

    Mmm, mystery.

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