Taking the iPod for a Walk

I love to walk, being outside and taking in the sounds and sights and smells of the world. There are usually lots of other people out taking a walk too, and what strikes me is how many of them are plugged into some sort of music or media player. So the earphones are plugged in, and they're motoring along listening to music or the radio. And people of all ages do this, even the oldies.

This seems a bit perverse to me. To my mind one of the main benefits (and the major part of the enjoyment) of a walk is to get out of your usual box and smell the roses, as they say. If you're plugged into music or the radio then you're ignoring a fair chunk of what's actually going on around you as you walk, and you're like an acoustic turtle, taking the noise with you from home as you go. You may as well buy a treadmill and stay home.

It's probably fair to say that the plugged-in people are out there for 'exercise' rather than to take in the sights. So another 'busy' thing to add to their already busy lives - another thing to do. Ironically it turns out your body doesn't function too well in that sort of activity if you're not plugged into your surroundings (by looking, listening...), of which much more over the coming months and years. So they're not getting a proper 'work out' anyway, they'd be much better off plugging into the world if they want that.


  1. In picking up on the point 'your body doesn't function too well in that activity....' - here I'm repeating a discussion I've had elsewhere, but this particular form of 'inhibition' (as I choose to call it) effectively results in a person trapping themselves in their own bodies - and doing damage. Coupled with a particular person's own 'personal' inhibitions - whatever those might be - I think people are creating a powerful physical (and mental) prison for themselves that has consequences most don't even realise are happening in the quest to 'be healthy' (or whatever). While it's amazing to me that people often don't seem to realise this, what's even more amazing is the range of injuries, chronic conditions and frustration that can develop as a result of maintaining this kind of 'mind-body disconnect'.

    To take this particular example of walking while 'plugged in' to the 'wrong system', a person is forcing their body to interact with the environment in response to an artifically-created rhythm, that is not the 'right' rhythm for that environment.

    Apart from the obvious effects - such as not being aware of surroundings and inadvertently being hit by a car, or not hearing an emergency vehicle and invoking the eternal enmity of paramedics everywhere - the more insidious effects include sprains, strains, muscle tears and fatigue, pressure injuries in the bones of the feet, joint damage and so on. Another example - have you ever tried swimming laps in a pool when there is also an aqua-aerobics session happening in the same pool, where you can hear the music underwater? Then you'll know what I mean - as much as you try and block it out of your mind, the rhythm of the music messes with the 'rhythm' of the water - and injuries are usually the result because the swimming stroke/s are disrupted and become discordant, resulting in damage to the body. All because of the lack of understanding about the continuum between mind-body, person-environment and so on.

    So, rather than 'inhibit' the body in these sorts of ways, I think it much healthier to lose the inhibitions (physical and/or personal) and discover what it does for 'health'!

  2. Amen! We've talked before about how certain rhythms in an environment can make you feel very uneasy, such as loud music from a car with strong bass - this has in the past caused me to start to become 'entrained' or resonant with the other rhythm, which I found very uncomfortable.

  3. Definitely an interesting discussion. I was talking to a tourism operator in Cairns a couple of years ago about travel patterns for young people.

    10-15 years ago backpackers were people who liked to "rough it" when discovering a new country - no fixed address, but more importantly the desire to meet PEOPLE.

    He called the present generation "flashpackers" - the IPod was more or less welded to the body, and when he was organising tours for them out into the Outback, they would hop on the bus, stick the IPod in the ears and basically doze through the day - they normally didn't really care where they were or what they were really seeing.

    This for me is the irony of modern technology - it likes to suggest global connectivity, but it is producing a generation of introverted neurotics.

    Which doesn't mean I don't love the technology - I just wonder if the current generation will learn what it really means to experience things...

  4. I'm not sure it's generational though, because equally as many old farts do it as well.

    One of the main reasons people give for it is that it's 'boring' to not do it. So at root just being in a place - nothing more, just being there - is a completely dead experience for them. That explains a lot about what's really going on, I think.


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