Citizenship Confusion: iPods (iPhones) and Community

Every Monday in Citizenship Confusion, Alan Noble discusses how we confuse our heavenly citizenship with citizenship to the state, culture, and the world.

I’m tired and mentally spent from a long week of dissertating, grading, family, and CaPC; so, rather than write up some half-hearted and quarter-adequate column on GCB (which would have had the tantalizing title, “Bigotry, Blasphemy, Boycotts, and ‘Belles.'” Sorry, kids), I decided to take a look at the Christ and Pop Culture archives and repost an old feature of mine that would otherwise be lost in the Digital Graveyard. Think of it as my way of fighting the ephemerality of web content. If you want commentary on GCB, check out Richard’s column from last week, which even contains some profanity!

Three years ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Compartmentalizing My World: iPods and Community.” In it, I argue that Christians have an obligation to live actively and openly in community with those around us.

As citizens of heaven, our responsibility is (in part) outward, toward our neighbors, whereas the Market and the State would have us believe that our ultimate responsibility is to ourselves and the State. These different views of responsibility affect the way we live in community. The Market tells us that what is important is our happiness, individuality, and pleasure. So, if you tune-out the world while you jam along with your favorite tunes through some headphones, you’re being a good citizen–an actualized, personalized, individual consumer. Apple managed to convince us that this thing that had always been primarily communal (music) was best enjoyed privately and individually.

Christians ought to think creatively about how they move and act in society. Do we adopt practices that envite openness, love, and concern for our neighbors? Or do we shut ourselves off from our neighborhood and community? In this 2009 article, I explore the effects iPods (now, iPhones, I suppose) have on our neighborliness:

“[A]n iPod allows us a very visible and practical way to communicate to others when we are ‘off’ at any time and in any place, so that when I walk into my local Target with my iPod on, I am communicating to everyone in that store that I am ignoring them as a community; I am ‘off’ for the day, as far as they are concerned. Rather than live as an active and open member of a community who responds to the needs of those around him, I tend to choose, quite liberally, when I will listen to those needs by plugging in my earbuds.”

Read it and consider how your adoption of cultural practices and habits might affect your witness in the world.

How do your texting, mobile browsing, mobile gaming, Facebook, Bluetooth habits affect your being in community?

 

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  • Jeremy Reeves

    I read this article on my iPod touch. iRony.