Back in 2006, Microsoft released their first MP3 player: the Zune. It was supposed to be the iPod killer with its large screen which lets you play movies. It had a built in radio, which let you tune into your favorite FM radio stations. It also had one unique feature which let you send other Zune users songs, so basically you could share music with each other. It was a great idea, but Zune was never as popular as the iPod. With 30 gigabytes of storage, the Zune was a really good mp3 player; there was only one problem with it: it was bulky—like a brick.
In 2008 during my senior year of high school, I got a Zune through a Microsoft promotion where you had to earn points by playing mind-numbing flash games for hours before you could spend them to collect your prize—Club.bing.com, I think it was. I told my friends about it, and they were skeptical, saying that it wasn’t legitimate. I went with it anyway, and surely enough it came.
Whenever I take out my Zune, at least one person will look at it—either out of disgust or surprise. I think it’s because mp3 players have evolved so much that the current standards require it to be thin, have a touch screen on it or a phone—not a brick with a clicking wheel on it. The new iPods look really nice; I used to try to stay up to date on mp3 players, but eventually, I decided that it wasn’t worth it. I feel that companies just make minor improvements to the models, making it a little bit thinner or nicer without any real improvements. Sure, the new iPods can browse the internet and watch youtube videos online, but in the end, the devices’ purpose is to play music. My Zune does exactly what it was created to do: play music and movies.
Today when you look at any kinds of commercials, they try to sell their products to you by addressing one thing they know will hook you: individuality. They focus on this point, because a majority of us were raised being told we’re special—and how else can we stand out from the crowd if not buying things we don’t need? How many people do you see on the bus with an iPhone out, or a really fancy iPad (I don’t have anything against Apple products, really—I have two iPods)? How many people do you see really big-shiny pick-up trucks that are completely mud free? How many people do you see wearing a certain kind of shoes, because it’s the new “in?” Because of this craving to be unique, ironically, everyone ends up being the same.
There was a really good quote by comedian Louis C.K. and it goes along the lines of this, “Rich people don’t know what it’s like to be poor, but poor people know what it’s like to be rich—they know exactly what it’s like, because they fantasize about it constantly. Every poor person has their whole rich life planned out.”
He’s right; going to extravagant places, buying things we can’t really afford—a lot of people want to stand out, but they’re doing it the wrong way. Buying nice things to make up for a lack of personality doesn’t make anyone unique; the attention you get might be jealousy or even rage. I want a lot of stuff in my life—but now I always stop and ask myself: Do I really need this? And not surprisingly, the answer is usually no.
My Zune does its job of helping me get my music fix, but I’m at the point where I rarely use mp3 players anyway, since it shuts you off from the world. When I do, however, it stands out in its own weird way; maybe because it’s an obsolete product that everyone’s forgotten, or maybe it just looks like I’m holding a brick. Whatever the case, my Zune hasn’t failed me after all these years of wear and abuse, so I’m not going to abandon it for something new and shiny.
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