What's All the Love About Headphones?

Everyone in my house wears headphones.  Well, that’s only two, if you don’t count me.  But every time I come into the family room, there’s my son, headphones clasped to his head, listening to music or watching YouTube or doing I don’t know what, and in the dining room, my husband sits, hunched over his computer, with these huge padded things covering his ears (he looks like an air traffic controller).

Probably I’m just out of it but what is it with headphones, or ear buds, I guess they’re called, for those people out walking the dog or jogging?  Wouldn’t they just like to hear what’s in their head, for once?

I jog and the main reason I do is so that I can think.  The greatest ideas come to me out running (like the idea for this essay), and they would stay out in the atmosphere (or somewhere) if I were listening to Barry White (uh oh, I just gave away my age).

I believe some people wear them to shut out the world.  Wouldn’t be the first time, I guess.  I know my son hears me when I ask if he’s done his homework but innocently he looks up, after the third time I ask, to say, “Excuse me?”  Now, ask what time he wants to go to his friend’s house, and, bizarre.  He hears me the first time.

Same thing with my husband. While he has a better excuse than my son (he’s often scanning patient records), he, too, has a hard time hearing when I ask if he can take out the garbage.

But say I’m going out to Lord & Taylor’s to spend some money, and suddenly he has the hearing of a dolphin (they have the best in the animal world, in case you’re wondering). 

I know, I know, we live in a technological world (when I worked as a reporter for The Advocate back in the ‘70s, I was the last one to give up my typewriter), and I’m not going to lament how we don’t talk to each other anymore, we just text (which, I must admit, I kind of like).  But just what is it with these headphones?

You hear about the people being struck by cars and taxis (and now bikes) in Manhattan, so engrossed are they in whatever they’re hearing.  But I’d be so bummed out if I missed the sparrows chattering in the trees in the fall, the giant frog hrmphing in the pond near our house in summer, or the peepers in early spring when I’m out for my run.

My favorite time to run is at dawn, or close to it, when the sky is only slightly turning gray.  In the spring you can hear the birds, the most amazing thing, in the dark, twittering away.  If I wore headphones, I’d miss all that.

But I guess they do have their place.  After all, I turn the radio up high in my car (and sing, when I’m alone, so I don’t embarrass my son).  It’s just that I kind of like the thoughts bumping around in my head.  I have so little time otherwise to think them!


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