“It seems iPod people have taken over the world. They’re in the airport, waiting for the bus, studying in coffeehouses, working out in the gym, even laboring beside you in the office. With the help of little MP3 players, these people create their own mini universes, shuffling along listening to whatever they want, wherever they feel in the mood,’ Kimberly Hayes Taylor writes for The Detroit News. “iPod users, who also call themselves ‘iPeople,’ say they can’t get enough of the music downloaded from computer hard drives, the Internet and CD collections.”

“To do that, they’ve snapped up more than 10 million iPods since the cute gadgets were introduced Nov. 21, 2001 — 8.2 million of them last year alone. While these creatures remain in their own worlds, obviously ignoring the rest of us, unbeknownst to them, their behavior is being studied. Cultural anthropologists and techno experts wonder what the impact of their actions will be. At this point, experts are still grappling for answers,” Taylor writes. “Do iPeople just want to be alone? Should we talk to them? Will they change society as we know it?”

Taylor writes, “Alex Halavais, a professor at State University of New York at Buffalo, thought he knew the answers until a few days ago when a conversation with a student left him shocked and confused. ‘She was talking to me, her professor, and she kept her earplugs in the entire time!’ exclaims the assistant professor of informatics. ‘She seemed to be listening. She nodded in all the appropriate times. But I couldn’t believe that she wouldn’t remove the plugs.’ Now, Halavais says he’s bracing himself for the moment a student dares to sit in his class with earplugs in.”

His examination of this new breed has provided some revelations:
• It’s fine to interrupt a co-worker who’s wearing ear buds. That was established decades ago when Walkmans were popular.
• You shouldn’t be offended if iPeople listen to their music instead of you because it’s not about you. “They don’t think of this as ‘I’m listening to music,’ ” Halavais says. “They think of it as ‘I’m listening to my own soundtrack.’ “
• People with plugs in will speak to you if you greet them first.
• If the iPeople and their constant need for ear buds rub you the wrong way, you should hurry up and get over it. You may as well, Halavais says, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Taylor writes, “Think of it this way, he says: Remember a few years ago when someone’s cell phone rang at work or in a restaurant and everyone turned around, stared and instantly hated the phone’s owner? Now, that doesn’t bother you at all, does it? ‘It’s a new technology,’ Halavais says. ‘Just like ringing cell phones, you’ll get used to it.’ And there’s much to love about iPods, their owners say… Are iPod people sort of weird? ‘Yes,’ Halavais says. ‘The iPod people are also serious Macintosh people. That’s already a cult. They were weird already. Once they built them in a little white case they could carry around and wear like jewelry, people say, ‘I have to have them.’ That’s the social part of them. They are in the network.'”

Full article here.