Sony Walkman: 30 years of disaster?

The Sony Walkman - the archetypal gadget of the me-generation?
The Sony Walkman - the archetypal gadget of the me-generation?

Following the launch of the Sony Walkman X Series Video MP3 Player to mark the brand's 30th anniversary, a Daily Mail journalist has claimed the personal music player is "one of the biggest blights of urban life" and "the archetypal accessory of the me-generation."

"It is 30 years – yes 30 years! – since the appearance of the first Sony Walkman," writes the renowned fogey, A N Wilson, consciously or not reaching Charlie Brooker levels of Daily Mail Island parody.

"It is 30 years since we first got on a bus or a train and heard that infuriating tsst, tsst, tsst, tsst noise emanating from a wired-up earhole just behind us, 30 years since one section of the population became literally deaf to the existence of the other half," he scolds.

While for many this may sound like the rantings of an aging Luddite – particularly to those of us that grew up in the 1980s and for whom the arrival of the Walkman brightened up our daily peregrinations through grim northern towns – it is at the same time a good reminder of the importance of the Walkman brand. It literally divided the generations (and still does, clearly, in A N Wilson world).

The archetypal me-gadget?

"With one of these infernal things plugged in to your head you are literally deaf to the needs of others, and have no idea quite what a nuisance you are being," Wilson continues.

"Locked in to your own music choices, you can hear nothing said to you, and you will fast become desensitised to the fact that traces of your noise are intruding into the calm and silence of anyone who has chosen to travel without being wired up."

He continues: "By the time they [iPod/Walkman users] are 35, this generation will have experienced serious hearing loss. Of that, medical research is in no doubt whatsoever."

Wilson clearly needs to invest in some decent cans – such as some of those rather marvellous, noise-cancelling, personally-fitted ACS /Etymotic earphones that were released last month – which emit no noise and thus annoy nobody else sat nearby on the bus or in the train carriage.

It would also solve the problem that Wilson identifies with those white iPod earphones, which is that "Muggers will rip a decent iPod from your head if you are unwise enough to wear one in the badlands of our big cities."

For more marvellous nonsense from A N Wilson - or, as we refer to him in the TechRadar office, "the Victor Meldrew of tech" - head over to the Daily Mail's website. Genius.

Adam Hartley