Is anyone else as worried about headphones, headsets, earpods, callemwhatyouwill as I am?
I use these things fairly often. More than I should, probably.
But not as much as a teenaged kid who lives in my apartment building. He has them on all the time. And of course, he's not the only one. When I'm out walking the dog, a large proportion of the folks we pass jump out of the way at the last minute because they're plugged in and can't hear us coming. On the train and in the lift, there's always at least one person whose headset leaks so that I can hear the tinny sounds from a metre or two away.
Which I suppose is fine if that's only occasional usage and if the volume isn't terrifically high.
But I suspect, based on my own usage of not headphones but a handheld Bluetooth speaker I carry and listen to podcasts on, that we set our gadgets at a fairly high volume so that we can drown out ambient sounds and hear everything there is to hear in the audio we're listening to.
That's not great for young ears or old.
My father has always maintained that my grandfather – and some years later, my grandmother – went deaf in his later years because his apartment was right next to train tracks. Stick your head out the window and you have a train right there. My father says that the constant clickety-clack all day made my grandfather go deaf.
And that's clickety-clack outside your head. What happens when you move the sound to virtually inside your head with a set of earpods?
Like everyone, I have my own morbid thoughts sometimes. "What if I were to suddenly go blind tomorrow? What would that be like? How about if I lost the use of an arm? What if I lost all my teeth? What if I went deaf?" The idea of deafness is the one that scares me the most.
Not that the others aren't scary. But I've always enjoyed listening to things. Whether it be a bit of music that I rewind and listen to more than once so that I catch every instrument. Or that (real or imagined) brief hesitation in someone's speech that I imbue with meaning. Or the sound of insects and blades of grass rustling against each other as I sit quietly in a grassy field and just keep my ears open.
Headsets are just great. I love them. But sometimes I put them away and listen to the breeze.