There's three of us in this marriage

in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
The Sunday Times [London, UK]

There's three of us in this marriage, me, you and the iPod

It is the latest in ?fetish technology? inspiring passion, obsession and love. Grown men (it?s usually men) swoon as they caress its elegant ?touch wheel? and the glinting backlit buttons. It is, of course, the iPod, the fabulously cool gadget the size and shape of a cigarette packet which can store 10,000 of your favourite songs.

Two million have been sold by Apple, 733,000 of those in the past three months. But the thousands of women who bought their husbands and boyfriends an iPod for Christmas are beginning to regret it. As thirty and fortysomething men become increasingly fanatical Poddies, spending whole evenings and weekends with this small object of desire, their partners have been rendered iPod widows.

It seems that the iPod obsession and its effects on the user?s home life are part of a wider trend of the digital age. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is set to publish marital advice that will include a warning about the role that computers can play in the wrecking of marriages, while a report on Kazaa, an online music service, said that 10m of its users spent an amazing 30 hours or more a week downloading pop tunes.

Recently ?widowed? Laura Blake is typical. The 30-year-old interior decorator bought the 20GB model (£299) thinking that she was buying her husband another harmless gadget for Christmas that would lie around the house unused ? like the telescope she bought for his last birthday and the webcam the previous year. How wrong she was. ?Every evening,? she says, ?he gets the iPod out straight after supper and starts fannying around with it. It?s taking over our lives.? She regrets ever buying it for him, particularly since he decided that they need a shiny new co-ordinating iBook laptop and paid for it from their joint account.

The appeal for her bloke, she believes, is less about listening to music and more to do with the process of storing it and all the interminable labelling, alphabetical categorising and cross-referencing by genre that it involves.

He ruminates for hours over which genre he should file his Massive Attack album under while only vaguely pretending to have a conversation with her. ?Men love making lists and the iPod provides the perfect outlet. He?s got 500 albums to download onto the blasted thing,? she sighs.

The trainspotter-style approach to music is a male trait already well documented by Nick Hornby in his novel High Fidelity. The iPod has made it acceptable for men to give in to their nerdish instincts.

Helen Stocks, a marketing consultant, remembers when her husband used to play his guitar to relax. These days, however, he disappears upstairs to play with his iPod, a 40th birthday present last October.

?He?ll occasionally come downstairs and tell me all about some amazing thing it can do, although I?ve never actually used it myself,? she says. Frequently she speaks to him not realising that he has his discreet iPod earphones in and she is being ignored.

Martin, her husband, sees it differently. He radiates joy and awe as he speaks of his beloved gadget and, he points out, it serves a real purpose. The couple live in Guildford, Surrey, where Martin co-owns a company ? he listens to his iPod on his motorbike when he commutes to work, he says.

Also, he admires the ?unfeasibly large amount of information? that such a tiny gadget can hold and the ?sheer technical wizardry? of it all. Even the flaws (there have been a few difficulties with the iPod?s battery) are just inevitable ?teething problems? with such a ?visionary invention? and, besides, the Apple helpline is wonderful.

He knows that he will only ever play about 10% of the music he has stored on it, ?but the point is, I know I?ve got it and that it all fits into my back pocket?, he says delightedly.

If you think Martin is obsessed, then Poddie devotion reaches new heights of fanaticism when you log on to the iPodlounge website, where iPod lovers from around the world post their pictorial tributes ? an iPod on Mount Rushmore, a Stonehenge made of iPods.

Alan Hely of Apple is delighted by the near-religious devotion that his product has inspired. He?s keen, however, to point out that the iPod is designed to appeal to everyone regardless of age or gender and that female Poddies (Poddettes?) do exist, although there are no statistics on the male-female ratio of the gadget?s users. While Hely concedes that the iPod is quite a ?personal? gadget, he argues rather persuasively that it is just a part of the whole ? digital lifestyle flow? which, far from being solitary, benefits the whole family.

In this new era, he says, your computer is the hub for all the other appliances around you: digital camera, DVD, video camera, all of which are tools for sharing.

Then there?s the iPod mini, on sale here in April, which sounds rather ladylike ? even tinier, available in five pretty colours and able to store a sensible 1,000 tracks. But it?s not really the object itself that the iPod widows have a problem with: no, it?s the way in which it is being abused by their men.

Unlike the golf or football widow, the iPod widow is confronted with the unflattering possibility that an inanimate object holds more appeal for her spouse then she does. What?s more, her man can be absent despite being in the same house, sometimes even the same room as her. Before she knows it, it there are three of them in the marriage.

As Denise Knowles, a Relate counsellor, puts it: ?This kind of hobby is really rubbing your partner?s nose in it.? One out of 10 of last year?s Relate clients was having relationship problems associated with computers, she says. If they are watching rugby or playing squash, she argues, the other partner can be reassured that they are at least socialising.

Knowles advises that iPod widows and their men should look at the ?benefits and constraints? of the iPod use and work hard to ?reach a compromise and legislate couple time. You can choose to restrict the time you play with a new toy so the rest of your life can function adequately?.

If you?re following this advice, don?t listen to 31-year-old Alex, who recently widowed his girlfriend. ?My iPod is so beautiful,? he says, enraptured. ?When I got it, it was like I?d found a new love.?

Then he had a terrible moment of fear when it started malfunctioning: ?I felt like this exciting new love affair was all over. I panicked.?

However, he adds, relieved: ?It?s okay now.?

The same can?t quite be said for his real-life relationship. Ever since the night he took his iPod to bed with him, things haven?t been going so well.

My observations:

Isn?t ?Poddie? a godawful word?

It?s cool that giving someone an iPod makes them go out and buy an iBook straightaway.

This sounds like journalistic bolleaux: ?Frequently she speaks to him not realising that he has his discreet iPod earphones in?. How can anyone 'not realise' the white earphone cables?

Is anyone here willing to admit going to bed with an iPod?


  • Reply 1 of 1
    Is this from that cad that did that other article about how much 'poddies' are elitist techno-fiends, and how he was so adamant in affirming that he was not tech-savvy/ ?
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