Headphones are a scourge

Ok, so this might not be a popular opinion on a headphone forum, but I honestly think the proliferation of headphones in public spaces isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Sure, wearing headphones while you’re riding the train or bus or on a plane is a great use case, but I noticed again today how many people are wearing full-size over-ear headphones while walking around, and how it disconnects them completely from their surroundings. They may like it, but 1) it’s frustrating for people trying to manoeuvre around them while they’re oblivious to everything going on around them, and 2) they miss out on the world around them. And then there are the cyclists and runners who can’t survive without music or podcasts for an hour or two - are they so afraid of their own thoughts that (at least the cyclists) are willing to risk their lives to avoid those thoughts?

Ok, rant over. What do you all think?


It could be that the people with full size over ear headphones are simply trying to spare you the sight of horribly deformed ears.


I think that depends on the surroundings. A lot of the time I specifically want to disconnect myself from my surroundings because my surroundings really aren’t that great (in transit for example) - take me out of that and put me in the amazing world that is my music. But also on the flip side, going for a walk or a run or a bike ride through amazing surroundings can actually be enhanced by wearing headphones and listening to music.

It’s the same question with whether our phones are absorbing us too much. The internet is a vacuum with a pull that the real world’s persistence is doomed to suffer. But at the same time there’s that wonderful old time picture of everyone on the train thoroughly engrossed in their newspapers. And maybe that’s just it - even the most banal surroundings can be interesting when you pay attention to them - but their banality is all the more evident when contextualized by more interesting information. In this case, hearing that last little bit of detail in the music through amazing headphones is the more interesting context.


I’ll take those people over the people who walk around listening to music on phone speakers or Bluetooth speakers, or taking phone calls on speaker phones… :roll_eyes:


Agreed. Common sense should dictate when and where headphones are used. Same thing with mobile devices. People walking around traffic with their nose in the phone can be dangerous. One town in SoCal addresses it. It’s a shame you have to regulate common sense.


I wear headphones in public and work as a way to say “F*** off, leave me alone” because, let’s face it… Sometimes strangers and co-workers suck.



1 Like

I don’t know about headphones so much … but if we could just reduce the proliferation of people in public spaces, I know I would enjoy them a lot more.


Should I start a flame war here? Hmm, not much fuel. But.

DISTRACTED WALKING? How about DRUNK walking? The cops should breathalyze people walking out of bars! We could start a new industry of sick-bag equipped wheelchairs - MANUAL, of course, can’t let them run rampant on a Rascal. Plus attendants to move the too drunk to walk to appropriate transportation. (Where ProfFalkin will be sitting on a seat wearing headphones).

1 Like

Laws against that too. It’s all comes down to common sense, which unfortunately is not that common.

1 Like

I don’t have a problem with it per se, but you better have your head on a swivel. Life is an obstacle course, because some inattentive moron is doing something stupid that can take you out. Most people plug through life not paying attention. Wearing headphones you can be the victim of those people. Hearing is a helpful warning tool.

1 Like

We should have laws checking fat people :pancakes: walking out of all you can eat buffets. They probably are distracted and bloated, and they have too little blood going up to their heads. I don’t know what to do with the drunk walkers - could carry them to their cars, or just load them in the back of their pick up trucks. I was in Vegas a week ago, saw the Pukus Maximus buffet at Caesar’s Palace. 117 or more “gourmet” choices. Lining up to go in. Coulda’ borrowed from Monty Python for the exit, letting them fall down the chute into the rotating knives.

I need some controversy here!.
:pancakes: Disclaimer: I’m a bit under tall myself for my weight.

PS - maybe we should only allow people to walk around with wired headphones. That way they will walk around in circles.

PPS: I think the Bellagio fountain water affected by electrostatics. Can I sue?

PPPS: “Where’s my beer and when do I get paid?” - Bertram the Redneck, in Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels.

I broke both my wrists skateboarding due to a lady running out in front of me with “Beats” on I had to power slide to try and slow down, hit some sand on the side of the bike path and well both wrists broken…lady just kept on running on the bike path completely oblivious… I guess I could have just barreled over her but I’m pretty sure I would have done more damage to her than what happened to me she was probably all of 5’ tall 100lbs… while I’m 6’2" 220lbs moving at about 15-20mph…

and no…I don’t skateboard anymore… =) wife made me get rid of my boards after I ruptured my Achilles a couple of years ago lol… :cry:


Do you recall or did you experience either the Japanese Transistor Radio or the gigantic Boom Box eras? Private audio in public became common only in the 1980s with the Sony Walkman. You would have definitely hoped for private audio back then…

I agree on this and avoid noise cancelling products because of it. I want to hear a little bit at least.

That’s too strong. One can double-task and learn something interesting, enjoy music instead of horns and engines, or block out loud noises.


Sigh. I often take the subway and wear very conspicuous IEMs to block the noise. Every month or so a different random political organization puts salespeople/signature gatherers in front of the station entrance. The inexperienced volunteers often JUMP IN FRONT OF ME AND BLOCK MY PATH. I either point to my ears and walk past, or take a circle route around them without saying a thing.

They wouldn’t want to hear my words…blocking out the world keeps me polite…


RAAL Requisite SR1A owners can only walk in circles because the sound transports them to Valhalla.


Laws against walking around distracted are stupid. Why? It is an affront to natural selection. If you’re stupid enough to walk out into traffic with headphones on and your nose buried in your smartphone, then natural selection did us a solid. More bleach for the gene pool!

Seriously, humans stopped evolving when stupidity ceased to be fatal.


I was going to say “I’m an introvert, my headphones are often where I can get my feeling of space to recharge in an increasingly busy world.” … but yeah, this.


Sometimes I’m not even wearing headphones in public–yet still say to anyone within earshot, “F*** off, leave me alone” – because, as Sartre famously observed, “Hell is other people.”


Proliferation of ALL KINDS of noise is why I wear, in public, an old non-functioning pair of AT’s stuffed full of cardboard - WAY cheaper than Bose/Sony noise cancellers for the purpose.

1 Like