You probably enjoy going to the movies, and part of your enjoyment is the music in films. Music punctuates the action, enhances the mood of the action, and often prepares us for action to come. People like the combination of action and music so much that they often think that they'd like to have their lives accompanied by “background" music.
Not too long ago some of us even carried around “boom boxes" to provide tunes while walking. Then portable radios with built in earphones and even tapes provided the mobile music we all enjoyed while we did other things. Then portable CD players came along-still a little bulky but long playing and satisfying nonetheless. Now we have iPods and other devices that are small and light weight and have tremendous capacity permitting us to have them connected to us for hours at a time.
In films we sometimes become so involved in the story that we fail to perceive the music. But in daily life, something startlingly different is being reported as happening: we fail to perceive what's happening in our daily lives because we are so engrossed with the music coming from those ear buds. This can be dangerous, so dangerous in fact that municipalities are contemplating passing laws to forbid the wearing of iPods and other music providers when crossing streets. Extreme? Maybe. But it has been reported that pedestrians have been so involved in listening to tunes that they have carelessly walked into intersections and been struck down by cars or other vehicles.
So please remember: life is not the background for your music; music is rather merely a pleasant adjunct to life. So enjoy those tunes, but let's be careful out there.
You can look me up at http://www.ezcalco.com/home.html
The writer is retired and lives in Northern California with his wife.