Take those bloody earphones out of your ears.

At work, in the car, at the gym, at home, at school, along the high street, in airport, on trains and tubes, in cities, the world.

Take those bloody headphones off
Take those bloody headphones off

Wherever I go I never fail to see someone walking with earphones plugged into a mobile or iPod. 

In fact I did a quick survey, I counted 13 people, 9 had either on ear headphones or in ear earphones, that is 69{1d74e91790c4d065853aa1e61f19fbe549b48cdbdef5356588c1984bdc5a1a2f} of a group of people who I happened to walk passed on my way to an appointment in town.

69{1d74e91790c4d065853aa1e61f19fbe549b48cdbdef5356588c1984bdc5a1a2f} of people ranging from teenagers, middle age, elderly a good representative mix of the population.

It isn’t just teenagers, even the silver generation are getting in on the act too. Walking in the park, town centre shopping and the gym.

There is no stopping this phenomenon of headphone/earphone wearing individuals zoning out from the rest of world ignoring all that is around them oblivious to sounds, distractions and noise,

What am I missing?

I love my music and I listen to my iPhone all the time especially when I’m in the gym and almost always when I’m on a run, it distracts from the pain and anguish but I just can not get into wearing them when I am out and about. Take those bloody earphones off

I’ve tried the in ear earphones, the on ear and over the ear headphones in fact I’ve got headphones for every occasion.

I’ve walked around London shopping, travelling on the train and the tube and I can’t get into it. I feel like I’m missing out on what is around me.

I did listen to my whale sounds and meditative music coming out of London one late night, I fell asleep and ended up in Bedford.

I am a professional voyeur, a watcher of people. I like to note their idiosyncrasies, mannerisms, social graces or lack of, I look at people who I catch staring at me daring them to see how long they might hold my stare.

Does wearing earphones mean that people want to opt out from human interaction or from the world that surrounds them?

Does the thought of a long nauseating day at the office mean the only way they can counteract frustration, anxiety or boredom is simply by zoning out?

Following the cursory how was school today boys, a few short grunts and nods and my boys too plug those suckers into their ears.

Apparently it breaks up the monotony of the journey.

What is wrong with CONVERSATION, it isn’t called the art of conversation for nothing. 

iStock_000023887471SmallDale Carnegie sold 15,000,000 copies of How to Win Friends and Influence People which talks about becoming an effective communicator and engaging in conversation with people without offending them and no earphones.

How to understand and get along with people, how to make people like you and how to win others to your way of thinking, all this was written by Carnegie in 1937, pre-mobile phone although we have Nathaniel Baldwin to thank for inventing audio headphones in 1910.

There were no smartphones to plug into back then.

Has conversation become too strenuous and time consuming in our fast paced society?

The basis for any human interaction in a society is communication, talking, chatting and sharing information.

It seems we have become a nation of Z-O-O-N-E-R’S

Zone-Out-Of-Nothing and-Everyday-Rituals

Interacting with a device is more important than talking.

iStock_000087025531_SmallPeople are in their own bubble, unaware of what is going on around them absorbed in their own world bumping into other pedestrians on their way to work distracted by their mobile phones.

The government should introduce a mobile phone lane for texting and listening to music in our large cities like its counterpart has done in Beijing.

If you decide to opt opt out of texting, listening to music or any form of interaction with your mobile phone you can stay out of harm’s way and not have to worry about being carved up or hit from behind by some gormless human that has strayed into your pathway not looking where they are going.

Psychologists call our fixation with wearing headphones while using electronic devices ‘divided attention’ or ‘intentional blindness’. I call it intentional rudeness.

You can easily disengage from society and I really get that but, seeing people with headphones is sending a message that says ‘don’t talk to me I’m unavailable for conversation or social comment, I don’t want to be disturbed or spoken to’.

My own children are not immune to the solace of earphones and conveniently go deaf, dumb and blind when they are wearing them.

During the holidays I nip out to do some shopping and I ask my children to listen out for me as I am not taking the house keys.

Only to arrive home ringing the doorbell, shouting, banging doors and windows for the umpteenth time trying to get their attention with me having to resort to phoning them on the very device they are otherwise engaged whilst I am standing outside the front door.

The moral of this sad tale, when you leave your kids at home, don’t forget to take your keys.

Music soothes me pleads my 12 year old, as he winds down after a long and arduous day at the school office.

I sigh as I yank the earphones out of his ears and kiss him good night.

Less listening more doing I say.


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