My family and I lived down the street from the middle school I attended, so every morning I would walk the four blocks to school. I discovered the power of headphones when I wanted to be left alone by others taking the same route to school.
I’d tuck my corded earbuds — those dinosaurs — under my shirt and made my way to school, hoping those white cords would alert my neighbor I wanted to walk alone. Yes, I love talking to people, but not at 7:30 a.m. Let me drown in the sorrows of having to walk to middle school.
The first time I walked those five blocks to school with earbuds, I thought to myself, “Emily, this can’t be a daily occurence. You can’t get used to walking around everywhere with music blaring in your ears.” What would my 13-year-old self think of me now? I’ve become so dependent on music and my AirPods — I’ve since upgraded — that to leave the house without this technology puts a damper on my day.
Today, walking from my car into a store or from one class to another, AirPods are in and music is playing way too loud for the health of my eardrums. This, plus the fact I don’t wear earplugs to concerts (how are you supposed to properly experience the music when it’s muffled?), will likely lead to poorer hearing when I’m old. I should do something about that, but I’m too deep in this addiction.
I don’t exaggerate and most will probably sympathize with me. How many people do you see walking down the street with headphones on? A good majority. The New Yorker published a piece about the sudden ubiquity of earbuds in public. That was in 2016. Now in 2019, it’s the norm. The New Yorker questioned if people really like music that much. As an avid music listener, I can attest to the truth in that question.
Spotify sends out Spotify Unwrapped, that lovely email full of insight every December about listeners’ music tendencies over the past year. I listened to around 40,000 minutes of music in 2018. I’m not sure how much that is in comparison to others’ habits, but I wasn’t too surprised. A significant amount of that time was spent listening to Jungle and Paradis — two of my all-time favorite artists.
The other day my pal introduced me to a playlist — “POLLEN” on Spotify. I can safely say I’m now obsessed with it. Earlier that day, I was pondering what music to explore because I was getting bored with the electro-pop tunes I’d been listening to on repeat. Its bio reads, “A playlist beyond genre. Quality first always.” And quality that playlist is, because every song on there is fresh and addicting.
It’s not only music, but podcasts. Not me personally. I have yet to get into podcasts but to some, podcasts are the best invention since kombucha. When there are 660,000 podcast episodes to choose from, according to 2019 Podcast Stats, and who knows how many songs to indulge on Spotify, of course we’re going to walk down the street with our ears plugged.
This isn’t a habit without problems though. Aside from the aforementioned inevitable deafness, the compactness of AirPods poses issues. I would know, having lost them once. Well, I misplaced them on several occasions, as I do with a lot of my belongings, but I actually lost them once. At my favorite movie theater no less.
It’s as first-world a problem as first-world problems will ever be, but for that week without the AirPods, I felt like a lost deer. Throwing it back to those ancient days, I had to use my spare corded earbuds. Good thing for those because I’m not sure what I would’ve done going days without being able to listen to music. Imagine having to actually talk to people.
It’s like when people get haircuts. On first appearance, you’re thrown off because you’re not used to their shorter hair but after a while you don’t remember what they looked like before. I’ve only been using AirPods for around seven months but I can’t imagine going back to corded earbuds.
I used my old earbuds — the really old ones where you need a dongle to be able to plug them into your phone — and couldn’t get over how inconvenient the cord was. I had to take my phone everywhere. The cord would get tangled with my jacket and tote strap and then I realized just how attached I’ve become to wireless earbuds. They’re a gem. And I guess they’re worth their $159 price tag because I broke down and bought another pair.
Seven days. That’s how long I lasted without them. My dad would lecture me if he found out.
One of the few things sadder than losing AirPods? Timothée Chalamet not showing up to the Oscars in February to bless us with his glitzy harness and strong jawline.
A few weeks ago, my car radio stopped working for a few days and I decided the best way to temporarily solve my problem was to drive with AirPods. I took the safety precautions though — I listened with the volume half up so I wasn’t completely inundated with hip hop and alternative beats.
I only did that a couple times until I actually considered safety and just started playing music out loud from my phone. Then the radio started working again and I was saved. Father, forgive me please.
The lesson here: Don’t use AirPods in movie theaters. They could somehow fall out of your pocket even when you don’t move, get lost among the red velvet seats and popcorn stragglers and that’ll be the end of life as you know it. That is, until you buy your new pair because you can’t live without them.