Friday, April 12, 2013

A Rant About Earbuds

Minor nuisances for an outgoing introvert.

I'm outgoing. When I travel from Point A to Point B I talk to people I meet along the way. Occasionally, I'll have a conversation with someone before they turn and take an earbud out of their ear and say "huh?" At that point, since they hadn't heard anything I said, I usually just say it doesn't matter, and walk on. I already wasted my breath. Why say the same thing twice?

I never understood why people feel the need to listen to music when they're walking from one place to another. I have a theory that it's less because they like music and more because they don't want to deal with other people. Because when I listen to music, and I enjoy a song, I want to listen from the beginning to the end. I can't just start in the middle, or stop listening halfway. That ruins the song. Rather than have that, I don't listen to music when I'm out and about at all. Music is something I enjoy when I'm unrestricted (can listen to songs in their entirety without interruption) and am in a quiet place where I can play music out of my laptop speakers (which then don't bother anyone else).

If people listen to music wherever they go and enjoy it, then it must be an obsession to have to listen to it all the time. The alternative conclusion: If they, like me, can't enjoy music when it's broken up, then to listen to it nevertheless must be an attempt to ignore people.

I'm having trouble thinking of any possible alternatives. I don't think there are any. Either you enjoy listening or you don't. Consequently, you're either obsessive about listening to music all the time, or you really don't like people and want to tune out the world around you.


It's not always easy to tell when someone is walking around with earbuds. Interacting with them as if they can hear you, then, and finding out they couldn't, is frustrating. Socializing is as much for the purpose of enriching the other person's day as it is your own. So in many cases, you've tried to "brighten someone's day," but they stopped you from doing it. Imagine if you give someone a compliment, but they don't hear it. Most people enjoy compliments, but they robbed themselves of the opportunity to be given one. People might not think about it this way, but intentions aside, I think that earbud-wearers often self-sabotage, because their perceptions of other people, and their self-esteem also, are skewed by the fact that they block out verbal communication, causing them to miss out on the good along with the bad.

I wish people wouldn't live in their own little worlds when they're out in public. They stand to miss so much. We all have our own private worlds, but mixing the two -- bringing the public into your privacy, or trying to bring your feeling of privacy with you into public -- sells ourselves short. It prevents us from being able to enjoy the full experience of either one or the other.

Does it annoy you when others are wearing earbuds, preventing you from chatting with them?

~ Rak Chazak

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