Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Emotional Rescue

I don’t understand how the iPod randomizes tunes when I have it set on “shuffle songs”.

I listen to my iPod in the car, and every day for two weeks straight it was playing "Emotional Rescue" by the Rolling Stones. Now, I like "Emotional Rescue", otherwise it wouldn’t be on my iPod, but it just seems to me that it can not be random that it comes up every day.

When I was young, if you wanted to know how something worked, like a clock or a tape recorder or a radio, you just took it apart and looked at it. You couldn’t ever get it back together again but you could understand how it worked. Life was simple to understand.

Now I could take my iPod or laptop or cell phone apart but I wouldn’t see how it works because everything is programming: it’s invisible instructions put into microchips.

Now, don’t think that I imagine that all our electronic devices are programmed to do evil or take over the world – no, definitely not all of them - and it’s not my imagination – but, for the most part, they are designed to keep us constantly in touch, no matter where we are, with people we didn’t even know we wanted to be in touch with. And the iPod is designed to play us songs we didn’t even realize we wanted to hear. It makes things simple and yet stressful.

I am not listening to music enough to go through 999 other songs and just come back around to Emotional Rescue in a week let alone a day. I know I could skip the song, but my iPod was choosing that song for me and I started to think that perhaps there was a message there.

So I went to a psychiatrist. He asked why I was there and I said, “My iPod suggested it. Listen, Doc, one day my iPod played this song from Todd Snider’s early career, when critics were comparing his sound to Tom Petty, and in this particular song Todd references that comparison to Tom Petty and the very next song my iPod played was Last Dance With Mary Jane by Tom Petty, followed by Red Hot Chili Peppers Dani California which is a total rip off of Tom Petty’s Last Dance song.”

The doctor responded in a controlled, reasoning voice, “Dani California was not a ripoff, it was a tribute song,” which is exactly what my Blackberry had told me he would say – but I didn’t tell the doctor that.

I said, “My point is that those three songs are a perfect set together and the odds of the iPod randomly playing those three out of 1000 is … I don’t know – it’s beyond my comprehension; which is why I’m feeling tense around technology devices. I think they are talking about me, maybe not in a bad way, but like they know something they are not telling me.

Then I told the doctor about Emotional Rescue and I told him that I had finally talked to my iPod about it.

“I was driving home from Yellow Springs and I had some time, and I said, ‘you know, iPod’ - I don’t have a name for my iPod, I don’t treat it like a human being or even a pet, I’m not crazy – but I said, ‘iPod, I guess I have been having a little trouble sleeping. And I’ve been feeling, I don’t know, like I am just not connecting with my communication devices. I mean I’m not going off the grid, but maybe you are right iPod, maybe I do need an emotional rescue. Maybe I should see someone.’”

The doctor was mumbling a song to himself, "stumblin' thru' the street, shufflin' on my feet, askin' people - doot doot doo doo - whutsamattah wit chu, boy?"

I stared. "That's 'Miss You'." "I'm talking about 'Emotional Rescue'."

The doctor looked slightly stoned, his mouth gaping half-open. Then he asked a bit too loudly, “Did the iPod answer you?”

I said “No, of course not.” and he seemed relieved. And I said, “iPod was just trying to help me see the problem it didn’t need to force the issue.”

The Doctor paused, thoughtfully. “John I’m going to have to agree that you could benefit from some counseling.”

I said, “I know! iPod knew. How does it pick up on that? How do they program it to diagnose psychological issues?”

“We can talk about it,” he replied. Why don’t you see Barbara at the front desk and set up once a week appointments.”

Well, Doc,” I said thoughtfully. “I do want to get some sessions going … but perhaps not with you.”

“Oh? Why is that?” he asked

“Well,” I said gently, “it’s just something my GPS was saying about you on the way over here. It was pointing me in a whole different direction.”

1 comment:

Jenny said...

LOVE it, particularly because my uncle complains about the "shuffle" function of his iPod nearly every time I see him! He has a point, but what is one to do?