They’re spreading, they’re everywhere, but most of the time you can’t see them. They plague the campus of Foothill with their blaring speakers, but you never hear them. They’ve been around campus for a while now, and headphones are silently spreading a syndrome that will destroy teenager interaction substantially if students don’t take the initiative to unplug their ears, and hang out with other human beings.
I know it sounds like I’m some old, nagging man, sitting on my front porch, mumbling at kids and all the technology they have these days, but headphones are really becoming a menace to social interaction among students, and often students are blind to the seriously dangerous physical side effects come with headphones.
When students like me plug in our headphones, almost all of the time we’re plugged in, we don’t want to be interrupted at all. If you see us with those tiny, seemingly stylish buds in our ears, we are listening, focusing on our music, podcast, book, etc. and we firmly desire not to be distracted from our private entertainment.
We pay for (or download) our music, pay for the device to listen to the music on, and pay for the headphones, so what should keep us from using them to the maximum of our capabilities and/or desires?
Nobody is stopping us but ourselves, and the problem is, we aren’t stopping. We can’t control our selfish, yet understandable desire to tune out the rest of the world and ignore it completely, while we unwind to whatever we feel like listening to.
What we don’t realize though, is that by tuning out the rest of the world, we are often affecting others around us in negative ways. Headphones help us ignore friends. They help us seem arrogant because we are ignoring everyone. They help us seem like we’re too important for others.
Believe me, I’m just as guilty as the next guy when it comes to plugging in and tuning out the people around me, probably even more so. But the fact still remains: as a generation that is captured by technology and entertainment, we can’t let it consume us. We can’t allow technology to prohibit us from giving attention and time to those around us.
Also, we all need to face the fact that sometimes we play our music way, way, way too loud. Again, I know I sound like some grumpy old grandpa on my porch chair, but teenagers, like myself, when in very focused mental states, are often cranking the volume way too high, causing damaging effects to our hearing. When we want to just blot the rest of the world out, we tend to play our music so loud that we feel like we’ve been at a rock concert for eight hours straight after taking them out.
This is seriously dangerous behavior and if I were you, I’d take some of Ms. Pelfrey’s advice and invest in hearing aids as soon as possible.
Do you have to refrain from blasting some Metallica or chilling out to Jack Johnson every day with those awesome headphones you bought? No, of course not. It can be unbelievably beneficial and relaxing to just turn up your volume and tune out. It’s one of the amazing perks of living in the 21st century.
But be aware of those around you. If they’re trying to get your attention, pull out the tunes and give them your attention without flashing sarcastic looks at them. Your music and headphones will always be there, but close high school friends won’t. Don’t miss out on fun, memorable, or even simple moments in or out of school just because you want to listen to a really cool song.