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iAddict: Hooked on iTunes

Observer Scene | Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My addiction, like many, started out small. Mini might actually be a better word, since my infatuation started with none other than the iPod mini that I received over the summer. The fateful day I received the small, silver MP3 player started me down the path to a new kind of addiction – an iPod addiction.

Prior to receiving my iPod Mini, my MP3 player had been little more than a memory stick with an earphone jack, and it served me nicely for several years. I slowly succumbed to the siren song of the iPod, and I was quite happy with the Mini after I got it. While it wasn’t as fancy as the full iPod and only held 2,000 songs, it seemed like enough.

The hard drive on my Mini crashed and I faced a difficult choice. I was suffering from “iPod withdrawal,” Apple had stopped making minis and Best Buy was out of its successor, the iPod Nano. I had nowhere to go but up, and that’s when I became the proud owner of a video iPod.

The video iPod changed everything. It was sleeker, it had a color screen and it had 30 GB of memory. The 4 GB of memory on my Mini kept me cautious – I only put songs I enjoyed on it. The larger capacity of the video iPod liberated me. I put every CD I owned on it, but I soon craved more.

With the new iPod, I vowed to continue to only use it at the gym and for studying, as I had before. This pledge didn’t last long. It soon became my constant companion while I walked to class or ran to meet friends somewhere, but that soon devolved into carrying my iPod with me anytime that I might have to walk more than 20 feet.

Constantly listening to music breeds its own problems. The more you use your iPod, the more you feel to need to constantly find new music to fill it. In the post-Napster, music-downloading crackdown era, there are fewer options for finding music easily. My iPod became a gateway to another one of my music addictions – iTunes.

I resisted buying music on iTunes because I wasn’t keen on paying 99 cents per song, but the ability to buy individual songs soon lured me in. Like the addiction to my iPod, my affection for iTunes grew slowly. It started out with a few purchases of individual songs I’d been lusting after for a while, but, naturally, it grew from there.

I avoided purchasing whole albums over iTunes for a while, but once I did, I knew that this was a problem that could quickly grow out of control. When you buy CDs at the store, the distaste for having to hand over cash or deal with my debit card will usually keep my spending in check.

On iTunes, though, the click of a button can buy you whole albums without the pain of actually forking over the money. I currently have an iTunes budget because the sheer ease of iTunes makes it both wonderful and potentially disastrous at the same time.

While I do have the capacity for video on my iPod, I have yet to take advantage of the shows available for purchase on iTunes. Seeing my past patterns, I know that buying videos would be the cause for both my financial and social decline. While the temptation to buy last week’s “Desperate Housewives” or the whole second season of “Lost” exists, my fear of becoming permanently detached from humanity and permanently attached to my iPod is pretty strong.

Another possible benefit, or detriment depending on how you look at it, is the endless possibilities the iPod and iTunes offer for wasting time. Between the ability to make playlists, to share music with other users and to listen to snatches of music on iTunes, there are endless ways with which to waste time. The video iPod offers the added option of finding album artwork for each song, which can take hours and gives the illusion of some form of productivity. Move over, Facebook, because the iPod offers a myriad of new ways to spend time accomplishing insignificant things.

While I am not proud of my deep attachment to my iPod and the intense allure that iTunes holds for me, the one solace that I can find is the knowledge I am not alone. Each day when I walk down the quad to class, I only have to look at the crowds and see another person with the distinctive white earbuds coming out from under their hoods to know that I am in the company of a fellow iPod addict.

Contact Molly Griffin at

mgriffin@ nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.