Thursday, November 4, 2010

If I could choose a superpower

A few months ago, I was listening to a This American Life podcast on superpowers, in which one of the acts centered on one guy's perpetual party question: if you could have either the power of invisibility or the power of flight, which superpower would you choose? It was an interesting piece, and I brought up that invisibility-or-flight question later with my superpower-savvy friend. Seems a lot of people are of the opinion that everyone secretly wants to be invisible so that they can spy on others; those people who say they'd choose flight are just embarrassed by their desire to spy. I can see the logic in this argument, but I'm not quite sure if it's accurate in all cases.

Anyway, lately I've been thinking a bit more broadly about what superpower I would choose if I had the opportunity. Not restricting myself to the invisibility-or-flight scenario, I've given myself full license to choose any sort of superpower I might want, whether it's comic book-accurate or not. I've thought about this question a lot while walking to and from places on and around campus. You know, those walks where you always see people plugged into their iPods? All these walks have helped me to make my decision.

If I could choose a superpower, I would be able to selectively tune in to whatever people are listening to on their headphones. I am so intrigued by the infinite possibilities of what different people might be listening to at any given moment, and I wonder if being able to listen in on a person's playlist would allow you to learn something about that person. Any thoughts on the matter? I know that my own iPod is incredibly diverse. My "Recently Played" playlist currently includes Juliette Greco, Billy Joel, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mickey Avalon, The Guggenheim Grotto, Jewel, and songs from The Sound of Music. I also listen to a ton of podcasts on my iPod. What does all that say about me?

It intrigues and amuses me to think of the possibilities of what these random people that I pass every day might be listening to. I am absolutely certain that some of what I would hear with my radio-tuning superpower would surprise me. Who is listening to Taylor Swift or Glee? Who is secretly reveling in the fourth-grade glory of the Spice Girls and Hanson? Who is wearing an ICP t-shirt but listening to the Planet Money podcast? What a wonderfully interesting superpower mine would be.

What's on your iPod?

And what superpower would you choose?


  1. If you had that superpower, you would find out that my mp3 player has an unfortunate amount of Fall Out Boy on it. And that I listen to Fall Out Boy a lot.

    I'm not sure what my superpower would be. I'd love to be able to fully read and understand a book just by staring at it for a minute. Then I could finally have time for all the books I want to read before I die.

  2. I love this question and I love your answer. It's very original.

    Beth, there was a show on Nickelodeon when we were younger about this alien kid called The Journey of Allen Strange. He could read any book in seconds. I have always wanted to do that. Also I to love Fallout Boy.

    If I could have any super power I would choose to fly. I think I would even make it so that I would have giant angel wings.