Famed neurologist: pedestrians with iPods "walk in front of cars," and are "like zombies"

I see this in urban settings all the time. iPod or iPhone user, music being IV'd to the ears, doesn't look left or right when they cross the street.

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I see this in urban settings all the time. iPod or iPhone user, music being IV'd to the ears, doesn't look left or right when they cross the street.

I started to think well hey, maybe I am becoming a curmudgeon. But then I've just read an interview with Dr. Oliver Sacks and woohoo do I feel vindicated.

Dr. Oliver who?

If you remember the 1990 flick "Awakenings," you probably recall Robin Williams' portrayal of noted neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks.

Forward 17 years to the present day, and we find Dr. Sacks touring the nation in support of his newes book, "Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain."

In this book, Dr. Sacks writes at length about how our individual brains react to music, musical stimuli, and indeed, music all around us.

The fact that so many of us take in music through our iPhones, iPods and other portable music players is disturbing to Dr. Sacks in the fact that so many of this musical consumption takes place on busy city streets.

Dr. Sacks articulates this view in a just-published interview in Willamette Week, an alternative weekly in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.

Here's what Dr. Sacks says in part:

I’m actually a little frightened of iPods because I think that not only can you be given music all the while, but you can use it to ward yourself off from your environment. You can have it too loud, I think it can make you functionally deaf. I don’t know how it is in Portland, but New York is full of people who are either on cell phone or iPods—they walk in front of cars, they’re like zombies.

At that point, article writer Claire Evans asks Dr. Sacks whether it's music or the device that turns them into zombies.

Dr Sacks replies:

Well, perhaps they go together. There’s the self-contained machine, the cell-phone syndrome, but if music at great intensity is being piped into your head all the while...I think it can be wonderful in a way, but slightly dangerous.

Uh, slightly, doc?

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