I was recently listening to a podcast on my ipod where both the guest and the host on the talk show went on a long rant about how people are too frequently “plugged in” these days.
I was listening via headphones on the bus when the topic came up, and I couldn’t help but scoff. Upset that people are too plugged in, yet you spend your life creating audio programs for people to listen to while they’re plugged in?
Excuse me, but that seems a little contradictory.
I understand the concept though, and up until recently I had never owned an ipod/listening device and preferred it that way. I was a firm believer that if I spent all day walking around with headphones in I’d not only be isolating myself from potential human contact, but I’d lose my appreciation for my surroundings. The sounds of the city, the seagulls, and everything the physical experience has to offer.
I also never found an ipod necessary previously because at any given time, there tends to be music in my head. My brain DJs on its own, sometimes I sing along, and it only plays what I like (for the most part).
What finally bent me to submission was the cubicle. Long days, boring as all hell, and the man decided to block access to Pandora on our computers. I had to find an alternative, I was bored out of my mind.
Listening at work became listening down the street, which led to listening on the bus, which led to listening anytime I was out of the apartment.
On one hand yes, I am happy to have the option to listen to headphones in public. There are days where I simply can’t handle old Jimbo on the bus telling me his life story, and wearing headphones is the most polite way to counteract that conversation.
It also helps me with anxiety. When my thoughts get racing lightning-fast and my stomach takes a nose-dive, focusing on conversation (even if it isn’t my own) really helps me slow things down.
BUT I also feel like I lost something, the very thing I had been trying to hold onto by not having an ipod.
The battery died a few days ago while I was out and I was forced to listen to… the city. Gasp. It was more comforting than most of what I’d been listening to anyway, and it was so refreshing I’ve opted not to listen to my ipod twice while out since then.
There was nothing I hated more than ipods when I was single. When all the cute people were plugged in, how could I strike up a random, charming conversation? I never really figured that out (and I have a huge pet peeve of people who try to hold conversations with me while I have headphones in and can’t hear them) so I didn’t bother trying.
Honestly I agree that people should spend more time unplugged. You’d be surprised at how the ambient sounds of landscape can be soothing, and you’d probably be more likely to get a date. We’ve lost touch with being present in the moment, and I’m going to do my best not to lose touch again.