I guess this is kind of a rant.
Music seems to be more and more the soundtrack to people's personal journies through the world. It allows them a detachment in that is often valuable in situations when you don't want to engage with society at large. Very often this can be annoying as I've found on the Greenway here in NYC as I dodge joggers, walkers, and other cyclists who have no problem taking their detached selves into the world as I ride my bike to work. This is less of a problem when simply walking around but when in an area where you have to share space such as a sidewalk next to the river it presents potentially dangerous problems.
Having said that I also feel that the musical experience has lost its social appeal. People insulate themselves with their mp3 players and have the magical ability to create their own personal soundtracks to accompany whatever they are doing. While this is great it seems to go against the idea that music has a use. It brings people together. I guess listening to your own music could lead to that and I certainly don't think people should start carrying boom boxes around but I still love it when I can strike up a conversation on a train or elsewhere. Shared experiences have special appeal. I find myself trying to look over peoples shoulders or listening very carefully to know what they are listening to in secret hopes that it will be something I know too.