Feeds

Australian school bans iPod

Yuppie accessory is anti-social, won't get kids laid

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A private school in Australia has banned its pupils from listening to their iPods. The yuppie consumer gadget will not be permitted in class, because it encourages kids to be selfish and lonely, according to the school principal. That's the perfect preparation for the life of David Brent-style bullshit and self-deception that lies ahead of them, you'd think, but amazingly, the principal of the International Grammar School has higher hopes for her brood.

Principal Kerrie Murphy noticed that iPod-toting children were isolating themselves into a cocoon of solipsism.

"People were not tuning into other people because they're tuned into themselves," she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Meanwhile, the school teachers' quango for the district is sitting on the fence.

"It's an emerging issue for schools," was the best a rather hopeless Geoff Newcombe could offer. He's the executive director of the Association of Independent Schools in New South Wales, and if this is the best he can do, he should retire gracefully. ('Emerging' is a very flexible word these days, and in this case it means "someone will deal with this eventually - don't shoot me!")

Banning fashion items is of course the school's historical duty, but you have to admit that Principal Murphy has a point. Apple's advertising for the iPod makes a virtue of people dancing on their own, locked up in a private world only they understand. And what can this lead to, but anti-social values later in life?

How? Because every second spent with an iPod is an opportunity lost.

Take one example. Riding back from the Sunset tonight on a busy MUNI bus, the 71 that goes through Haight, a guy got on with a tripod - a very unassuming and busy guy. The sweet girl opposite, who was with three friends, struck up a conversation with him. The bus trundled on and on, as MUNI does, but these strangers were getting on really well. And when they got off, he picked up his tripod and got off the bus with them, having found ... who knows what? This could be the best thing that ever happened to them both. They certainly appeared to have the all the faculties necessary to look after each other really well, and isn't it nice when life provides such random strokes of good fortune?

But it wouldn't have happened at all, if they'd been wearing iPods. For sure, if these iPod people might also be "Blog People", they could have gone home alone, and broadcast these near misses on their weblogs, or posted hopeful messages to the tiny classified "Close Encounters" sections of newspapers, or Craigslist. But in none of these situations would have been alive with the possibilities of you know, actually getting laid.

Which brings us to the broader point of what "openness" - a value often-toted by Internet evangelists - really means. Openness for one person can mean shutting off every one else, and all their irritating mannerisms and annoying opinions, that you don't want to hear. Freedom, in practice, is a case of how much you want to indulge someone else's ego.

What Principal Murphy seems to be saying is very straightforward.

These new technologies, these ego-centric "social minimizers", for want of a better word, like the iPod and the Blog, are really like the little sick notes that certain shy species (nerds or bookish types are two good examples) amongst us would invent to get out of some strenuous physical exercise at school. They nevertheless define and limit all the possibilities we have on offer to us. So socially, they're really rubbish - no more than expensive dongles, and only good for avoiding girls and boys we can have fun with.

The United States frets that it isn't a popular world citizen, right now. But if you need a global passport, it isn't your "bitrate" that's going to impress guests, whether you're sharing a jar of water in Zaire or in a tent in Armenia. The physical process of transferring bits, which technophiles obsess about, is of little interest in situations like this - it refers simply to a process. By contrast, music's potency to express the metaphysical, or emotions beyond language, is universally understood, wherever you go.

Principal Murphy is about to become the most pilloried "Luddite" in the world, but deep down, you know she's right. Far from being a draconian adminstrator, she's simply encouraging her pupils to get laid, and be happy.

And surely a tiny part of you really wants her to win, doesn't it?

Related stories

Apple de-socializes iTunes
Things to do online, when you are dead
Vaulting into a Rapturous techno-future with Jaron Lanier
How the music biz can live forever, get even richer, and be loved

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.