from Wired News, March 22, 2004
IPods Beat in Heart of the City
by Leander Kahney
Search for the word "iPod" on New York's craigslist classified ads and you open a fascinating window into the psyche of the city.
Naturally, a revealing search isn't conducted in the "for sale" section, which simply brings up a pedestrian list of iPods for sale. A truly illuminating search must include the personal ads, which offer some insight into the culture of iPods, but reveal more about the city.
Last week, for example, a boy from Brooklyn wanted advice about his girlfriend, who had dismissed his gift of an expensive handbag: She wanted an iPod mini instead.
According to the boy's report, the girlfriend complained the bag was good only for a single season, and besides, if they broke up she'd have the iPod to remember him by.
"Like should I dump her because this is just one more reason why I feel we can't be together?" he wanted to know.
Alas, the advice he received wasn't much help. Someone recommended dumping the girl and selling the bag on eBay.
And then there was the guy who needed an imaginary girlfriend for an evening while his parents visited from out of town. He'd lied to them about having a girlfriend, and he needed a pretend girlfriend for a dinner date. In return for feigned love, he'd buy her an iPod.
However, the ad insisted the lucky girl have a great butt and legs, which raised suspicions that the poster's intentions may not be as honorable as he proclaimed, and the ad was pulled by the "craigslist community."
Nonetheless, the poster received 30 or 40 e-mails from willing imaginary girlfriends, he said in response to an e-mail inquiry.
"I got an amazing response," he said. "Everyone is overjoyed with my concept, although several of these girls asked if I could give them new shoes instead of an iPod."
(The poster didn't respond to subsequent e-mails asking how the charade proceeded).
In a similar vein, there are several ads offering "services" in exchange for an iPod.
A cute 19-year-old says, "I need $100 to buy an iPod and I'm horny. Simple as that."
College girl Chloe makes a similar offer because she has bills to pay. "I bought lots of clothes, iPod and other things, and charged it to my credit card," she says. "I don't want my dad to know."
With admirable economy, a young gay man says simply that he'll perform oral sex for an iPod.
Many of the personal ads are "missed connections" -- lonely hearts trying to contact the attractive stranger they saw on the subway or in the coffee shop.
"Where are you my iPod man?" asks the tall Asian girl with glasses seeking a 6-foot-tall Hispanic male.
"I asked you about your iPod with the blue cover, and you just went on ranting about how iPod is the invention of the century," she writes. "You did not notice I was looking into your hazel eyes!"
Being personal ads, several people use mention of the iPod as a way to advertise their tastes or lifestyle.
Looking for a man, one woman says she enjoys all the usual New York leisure activities: singing a cappella, eating brie with raspberry jam and "playing with my iPod and other fun gadgets."
An older fashionista seeking young hipster boy says her ideal toyboy wears a blazer, white T-shirt and "prerequisite" iPod. He's got to have money, she says, and presumably, a dictionary.
On the other hand, a tall, lean hipster looking for a casual encounter boasts he'd never be seen with an iPod "stuck to my head." He adds that he frequents only hip clubs, not "cheese ones."
For some reason, the personals also feature an ongoing discussion of the meaning of the iPod on New York's streets, especially the signature white earphone wires, which some feel are "showy."
"I have no problem with anyone using the iPod. What does bother me is people who continue to wear the white earbuds," complains one. "They suck, but they (wear) them so other people would know they have an iPod. We should sell the earbuds without iPods so people can make others think they have an iPod when in reality, it's attached to, say, nothing. But hey, they will look cool. At least to girls wearing Uggs, who have Ph.D.s."
Others say the sight of white wires makes them curious about the wearer.
"Makes me question their income, housing, their career choice, educational background, political and social affiliations and all kinds of crap," says one poster.
It should be noted that similar searches on craigslist in San Francisco, Los Angeles or London fail to return anywhere near the volume of posts, or anything like the same results. The only posts of note occur in California, where hitchhikers looking for rides promise to bring an iPod and "take care of the tunes."