It is what it is: iPod, therefore I am

Author’s note: This column was originally published on Jan. 21, 2007. Will Morrow still has the same iPod, though with a few more songs.

“You downloaded Hanson? You’re such a dork.”

With those words of love and devotion, my wife scrolled through the list of songs I have collected on the iPod she gave me a couple of months ago for my birthday.

My musical tastes are eclectic, and sure enough, in between “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, and The Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl,” is “MMMBop,” a song wildly popular with the Tiger Beat crowd 10 years ago.

Admitting I have a Hanson song on my MP3 player is one of those unwritten things a guy is not supposed to do, up there with crying over a movie — “My Dog Skip” had me bawling at the end — and sharing feelings, such as feeling sad after watching a movie about a boy and his dog.

In today’s digital world, it seems, we now express our emotions through the technology we carry with us, or more specifically, the things we store in that technology.

Now that everybody has a tattoo and a piercing, individuality is no longer expressed through the way we dress or cut our hair, but with a ringtone. And our playlist provides a window into our souls.

A couple of years ago, there was quite a hubbub when White House staffers released the contents of President Bush’s iPod.

At the time, a spokesperson said people shouldn’t read too much in to what the president listened to on bike rides around his ranch; most was country music and classic rock, though the fact that he likes “My Sharona” by The Knack raised some eyebrows.

“No one should psychoanalyze the song selection. It’s music to get over the next hill,” presidential media adviser Mark McKinnon told the New York Times in April 2005.

White House spokespersons notwithstanding, the music that moves us is a very personal thing. Music can touch the soul like no other medium — sad songs, they say so much, right?

Sharing the things that speak to our emotions, just like sharing our emotions, is not something we do with just anybody.

So, what was I feeling when I clicked on the “Buy now” icon next to “MMMBop?” Honestly, it made me chuckle.

I was working at a middle school when the song was popular, and had daily conversations with preteen girls who were infatuated with Isaac, Taylor and Zac. I thought it might be a fun one to bounce around the living room to with my kids. I felt happy.

There are plenty of other songs on my iPod that touch on quite a few other emotions: a country song that reminds me of when my wife and I first started dating; another country song I listened to a lot when my grandfather died last year; the classic rock song my college soccer team used to take the field to (it wasn’t “classic” at the time); and plenty of alternative rock for every occasion.

It is empowering to be able to arrange all those songs, ordering emotions in neat lists.

It probably also says something about me that I have yet to organize my songs into playlists; I prefer the “shuffle” function.

It also says something about me that this is the first new technology I’ve been excited about since I finished college. I don’t own a laptop, I leave my cell phone on the counter more often than I bring it anywhere, and I’ve never figured out how the GPS in my car works.

But I find myself bringing that little silver wrapped doodad that contains my emotional autobiography just about everywhere I go.

What can I say? iPod, therefore, I am.

Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com.

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