Headphones are a great invention. They allow listeners to enjoy music, audiobooks or whatever else without disturbing others around them.
However, with the advent of the Beats headphones by Dr. Dre and similar noise-cancelling headphones, blocking out the outside world has reached a whole new level.
Now on the walk to class you are more likely to see students with earbuds or these new over-the-ear headphones on and social interaction put on hold.
For those who aren’t plugged into an iPod or mp3 player, headphones simply post “do not disturb” signs above those who are listening to something.
There is also the fact that sometimes people with headphones are not listening to anything at all. They simply just don’t want to acknowledge anyone around them.
For people who do this or just like playing their music wherever they are, that is their choice. Keep in mind that when you seal yourself off in a bubble of music you are preventing other people from connecting with you.
When you sit alone at a table eating, someone might come up and sit with you, but if you have earbuds in, no one is going to approach you because you look closed off to any form of conversation.
This is not to say that all people who listen to headphones are ignoring people on purpose. Everyone has those days where you really just aren’t in the mood to talk and music helps you feel better.
“It’s not such a bad thing,” said Cassie Gibbs, a senior English major from Sweet Water. “If people want to talk to me, they can come up and talk. I’ll talk, it’s not stopping me.”
The question you must ask yourself is whether you are separating yourself constantly with music when there are people around. Yes, it is possible to talk to someone while they have headphones in, but no one wants to carry on a conversation with a person when it seems half their attention is diverted to their music.
“It’s terrible,” said Buchanan Watson, a junior English major from Bermuda. “It is isolating people from the world. We come to college to communicate, but headphones prevent that.”
In the past, music was a means to create social bonding; it was a thing to be shared. With the creation of headphones it allowed people to enjoy their music alone, as a way to revel in your privacy while surrounded by others.
Music serves as a way to entertain and distract as you go through you day, but it also prevents you from interacting with people. Earbuds help individuals feel like they are in control of their environment and create an invisible fence of separation.
When you wear headphones it is assumed that you do not want to communicate with others and, whether this is the case or not, people will not try to reach you in your sound-cancelling safe haven.
The fact that so many people are listening to their own music becomes a silent form of peer pressure causing those who don’t tend to use their earbuds in social settings to start listening to their own tunes since everyone else is in their own little world too.
If people constantly shield themselves from conversation with the illusion of listening to music then basic skills that should be cultivated in college are gone. College is a place where you can begin to network and talk to people from extremely different backgrounds from your own, and this opportunity is lost if you refuse to take your earbuds out.
Some people use headphones to look independent and aloof from the crowd but all it really does is trap you in a tower of silence that no one will breach.
The point is it does not matter what your reason is for wearing headphones, you still come across as someone who is antisocial and doesn’t want to have anything to do with people.