As time progresses, we find that there are more things we can’t do without. We feel that we can’t fully function in their absence, and in this regard, technology has been a force of nature.

The iPod, for instance, has spread in popularity across the globe as a musical and technological craze. Personally, this seemed like the best thing since the DVD and although I rarely ever followed technology trends, I gladly joined in, and Apple did me proud. I eagerly grasped my first iPod almost seven years ago.

Sometimes I feel, however, that people see me with my iPod seemingly “day in and day out” — not the case — and assume that I’m shutting out the world. Perhaps those who haven’t caught on so enthusiastically to this little device fail to recognize that some actually use it for the music.

On a typical day you’ll find me walking down to the Glenn G. Bartle Library, headphones in, with maybe The Beatles, KT Tunstall or American Idol covers — yes I’m a fan and proud of it — sounding into my ears. I wind down and get out of my head, erasing as much stress as the singers will allow — I genuinely look forward to those moments where I can give my mind into the music that I love — how is that much different from the radio?

I’m reminded of my parents telling me to “unplug” in the car en route to some place of the past, and besides them wanting to have a conversation, I don’t know why using my iPod felt like a negative life choice.

“I wish you’d have one ear in and one ear out at least,” my mom says.

Do professors think that students walking through campus with earbuds in are just trying to get from point A to point B with no interruptions or an awkward encounter?

Some older folk, unable to see the iPod’s purpose, might assume them to be anti-social instruments, finding them only to be distractions from the real world. Sure, some people might want to set themselves apart and be alone — “plugging in” so that others wouldn’t think to approach them — but it’s hard for me to imagine using an iPod as anything less than musical enjoyment.

I have almost 5,000 songs on my iPod and I will continue to add more songs as long as artists keep recording music. Making new playlists is a great pastime or just something to do when you’re procrastinating. Additionally, listening to a wide range of music genres can actually broaden your cultural horizons, often allowing you to find more common ground socially with people of similar music tastes.

And music goes far beyond simple entertainment. Music can decrease negativity and stress, serve as a natural pain killer, boost athletic performance, promote better concentration, reduce blood pressure, help people with sleep and memory and even aid those coping with difficult diseases, illnesses or tragedies.

A couple of years ago I spent time with the elderly father of a family friend suffering from Alzheimer’s, and despite his severe memory loss, his skills as an incredible violinist remained; we even played flute and violin duets. I feel that it helped to maintain his health and mood, however slightly. Music was his life and he was lucky enough not to lose his talent. Music is significant to many people in many different ways.

Some might also be encouraged to learn how to make music, or acquire adapted tastes in artists that parents handed down, like Billy Joel or The Beatles. I taught myself the guitar in high school, and courtesy of my dad, I even listen to a Bill Cosby stand-up record when I‘m home with some down time.

I choose, like many others, to surround myself with what I feel is good music, feeling no shame in listening to as much of it as possible, even if I play the same song repeatedly, convinced that it never gets old (guilty). Just because technology, like Facebook or Twitter, is moving more into our social lives and hindering face-to-face communication, doesn’t mean that the iPod is designed to do the same.