Don’t Go Gently

Last Friday, my dad told me Apple stopped producing iPods. I didn’t get it at first. Why would Apple stop making those ubiquitous, overpriced music players? Everyone and their moms has it. Through its many iterations, the iPod is one of those things that defined the past decade. If National Geographic makes a documentary special on the 2000’s, you know it’s going to spend a nice half hour discussing the cultural game changer that is the iPod.

Myself, I never had one. I was never one of those early adapters. I like my cutting edge technology freshly blunted, just a bit late to the party, bragging that slightly uncool hipster cred.

I entered the late 90’s rocking an unbranded 125mb Chinese mp3 player, powered by a single triple A battery. It could fit 15 tracks tops, but I came from a time of discmans and every CD I owned held 12 tracks. 15 seemed like a luxury. My friends with their 5gig iPods could barely listen to all their collected music.

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I told myself that I would never need that much music at any one time. Unless a cataclysm befalls the world and the very fabric of modern society crumbles, I could always go back to my computer and compile a new playlist.

My cheapo mp3 player was stolen somewhere in Shaw Boulevard one fateful night. I hope the thief at least enjoyed my meager collection of underground Pinoy hiphop and ska. The player itself was cheap, so it was easy enough to head to the mall and buy myself another, slightly more pricey mp3 player.

I got myself a 4gig RCA Opal mp3 player. Besides my college education, I swear it is the best thing I spent money on.

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This thing has been with me for 8 years and just keeps chugging. I’ve been around the country, gone to New York and Beijing with this little solider by my side. Once, it fell into a lake but I got it out and it still works. I’ve gone jogging in really bad weather with this in my hand, no protective plastic, and it’s still good. In Ilo-ilo, I was in a whirlwind of a tricycle ride when this thing fell out my pocket without my knowing. The only reason I haven’t lost it was because the ear buds were still in my ears. The player survived getting dragged face down through rough provincial asphalt. It’s not the prettiest music player in the world, but it’s tough as nails.

Once every month, I sit down and format the player, deleting all the music so I can build a new playlist. I found a sort of zen in that, figuring which track goes with which, which artist should follow one another. On my way around the city, I listen to music in the order that I compiled it. No skipping tracks, and only occasionally repeating the last song if it’s particularly good.

More than once, I’ve been asked why I haven’t gotten the newest iPod, or a new phone. I never found the need for those. This beat up music player is serviceable, and that’s all I need.

I might never understand this generation’s thirst for more features, more apps. I broke my phone recently and had to buy a new one. Friends were telling me to get a good phone, something with the best features– something with games, a HD camera, a media player, ebook reader. But see, all I need is a phone. I need to send and receive calls and texts. I already have a really good shockproof, waterproof camera, a sturdy mp3 player, and my books. Why do I need a Swiss knife type of gadget?

So I picked up the cheapest Nokia android, to the amusement of people around me.

When my dad told me about the end of iPod production, I felt a tremor in the Force. I heard the death toll of the single-purpose device and realized that if something should happen to my mp3 player, there might no longer be any other mp3 players on the market to replace it. God help me, I might have to listen to music on my phone.

I went to three malls to have salespeople look at me in confusion when I asked if they still carried mp3 players. The last place I went to had their last three mp3 players on display. They had no intention of stocking any more. So I got myself a preemptive 4gig Sony walkman before the end of the world.

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