In case you missed it — and I’m sure many of you did — a funeral of sorts was held in recent days. It seems Sony has decided to stop production of the Walkman, a part of 80s culture which, quite frankly, I didn’t even realize was still being sent down the assembly line. How many teenagers today have ever held a Walkman in their hands or put the larger than life headphones over their ears. Certainly none would admit doing so since it certainly looks no where as cool as the Ipod does.
Still, for those of us who cut our teeth and became the person we are today in the Pac Man filled years of the 80s, the Walkman was a great invention. It allowed us to listen to the music we wanted to when we weren’t in our homes or in the car (we all remember how hard it was to control the car radio with our parents at the wheel.)
I remember owning several Walkmans myself. I say several because it seems they weren’t made to last. I remember they would fall apart after a few months of my heavy use. It wasn’t that I abused them, unless you considered playing them a great deal to be abuse. However, I still have a vivid image of having parts of several discarded Walkmans laying around. It seems the headphones would also fizzle out not too long after purchase even if the Walkman itself still played.
Since the time of my last Walkman purchase (at some point in the late 1980s), I really haven’t felt the need to have music playing directly into my ears. Having it in my car is plenty for me since I seem to be on the road plenty these days traveling here and there to ballgames and such. The invention of Youtube has also been great for music videos and that satisfies any other musical need I may have.
Our paper’s photographer and my youth advisor Jessica Brown helped me with the purchase of my new cell phone when my most recent birthday rolled around back in May. My previous one was way out of date she informed me so she accompanied me to the store and assisted me in selecting a phone similar to hers so she could walk me through setting it up and learning about all the million options available.
While I have learned about looking at the Internet on my phone, I still haven’t taken advantage of a fraction of what is available through my updated phone, which probably became out of date a week after I bought it. Jessica still can’t believe I haven’t downloaded music on it yet but I feel I have accomplished something by learning the art of texting and figuring out how to retrieve my voice mail.
In getting back to the Walkman, even I must admit this invention was way out of date. Similar to the VCR (which I still have one of by the way), I can’t imagine young people today wanting a Walkman over an Ipod or anything else. And unless you went into a store which featured 80s memorabilia, why would you even think you would be able to still find one?
So it’s so long to another piece of 80s culture. They will still be around, of course, on EBAY and through other places which relive the greatest decade. It somehow hung on until the year 2010 and that is saying something.
Perhaps one day I will figure out one of these new devices which plays music directly into my ears again. Of course, it wasn’t that long ago that I watched a movie on VHS and didn’t mind doing so. Yes, I do have a DVD player and am in fact on my second one. However, there’s something about a Walkman and VCR which will always take me back to a time when Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, big hair was in and Magnum, P.I. ruled the airways. A time that, quite frankly, at times I seem lost without.
Chris Bridges is editor of the Barrow Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.