I’m 34 going on 84 with this entry. I have not used my blog to simply say my opinions, and I’ll try to start with this one. The topic at hand is Ipods, or the fact that everyone walking around wears headphones listening to their own little soundtrack. Right now I have headphones and I’m listening to Pandora as I type while my roommate watches television in the same room. But I do not walk around with headphones on in public!
Safety first. To me when I’m walking through NYC I like that I can hear cars at intersections, or if someone is walking around me. I know that NYC is supposedly safer than Disney World these days, but being aware of one surroundings is important. If there is a danger, or a collision about to be made, having the sense of hearing can give one a heads up. I used to run on the streets with headphones, so that is all I will say about safety.
My main beef with headphones is that people think it gives them the right not to be bothered, and not to be approached. A few years ago in Forest Hills, a more well to do part of Queens, I saw a sight that pissed me off. This kind of attractive women in her twenties took off her headphones, got ugly, and said to an elderly immigrant woman, ‘Do you not see that I have headphones on? That means I’m don’t want to talk to anyone, *(&^%.” I realized that this elderly woman was simply asking for directions. I thought the younger woman really reacted like a spoiled child, and anyone lost should be able to ask directions. Wearing headphones does not simply erase being decent to other people. The street map in Queens and the city can be confusing, and I’m glad that when I ask directions, people respond with an answer. The people I’ve asked for directions might give me the directions, think they know and give wrong directions, or say they don’t know. But I’ve very rarely been chewed out for asking directions. And I’m not a meek old lady with an accent. So headphones or no headphones, that woman was out of line.
But I think a lot of people in this city wear headphones for that exact reason, so they can avoid conversations with strangers. It’s kind of weird concept. That on your commute to your job, or from point A to B, you can close off encounters and background noise by just having your own soundtrack. I’m a fan of music, but either at home on my computer, or in a bar where the musical experience is shared with the people in the establishment. I like that I can be aware on my commutes. If someone asks me directions, and I can point them toward the right way, I feel good, not pressed upon.
Lastly, I’m not the first to point this off in the skate world. But if you’re skating with people I think it’s rude to wear headphones, it’s nulls the shared experience. On a larger scale of that, I think wearing headphones in any group situation or around people is rude. I think memorable events for everyone involves a group of characters. To tell a good personal story, you need to remember what other people said, what the surroundings were, and the string of events. If people have their headphones on all the time, they are cutting of several perceptual senses, and therefore have less interesting things happen to them. That’s a stretch, but is an idea. I think to be part of something you need to be there, and not in a personal soundtrack la la land.