Earphones, headphones, and now, airpods or whatever you call them, are genius; you get to tune in to a song, a podcast or a video all while leaving people unbothered. For times that tend to get loud, they allow us to shut out the noise and be in our own little worlds, something that has easily become a necessity.
But what comes with tuning into something is also a tuning out from the world, which inevitably includes the people around us. Flashbacks of struggling to catch the attention of a person blasting a song in their ear may come to mind. With this, it’s time we learn to put some boundaries whenever we use them, here’s a helpful guide on how we can use these earbuds more ethically.
Adjust the volume
Literally and in line with various studies proving the harmful effects of listening to music in high volumes, we should, first of all, be ethical to ourselves by using our earphones at a reasonable volume and duration. To address this, Ear, nose and throat doctor (EENT) Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, from northwest Indiana (who has been encountering patients with hearing problems earlier than ever) recomends a 60/60 rule. Cherukuri tells us to avoid going over a 60 percent volume and to limit usage only for a maximum of 60 minutes.
Moreover, I think what’s equally important though in a much more figurative sense, is that we adjust this piece of technology’s settings where we can still hear the voices in our heads. This ultimately helps us stay mindful of whatever we’re listening to—it’s lyrics, implications and whatnot—as well as our surroundings for the very reason that our own thoughts aren’t being drowned out by it.
Only get lost in it during your pastime
As I’ve echoed, having moments when we could zone out is crucial and is more often than not, aided by listening to something on our own. However, this should be in a setting where we could completely let loose and do so. That is, during idle times or when we plainly do not have to pay attention to anything or anyone.
I personally only let myself get lost in music either when I’m doing chores, going for a jog or stalking an ex. See? Mindless occasions. Nevertheless, the music’s there to elevate the experience by bringing rhythm to monotony.
Avoid plugging in during social gatherings
Whenever you’re hanging out with people you know, avoid plugging in and closing yourself off. It’s rude to be in their presence, only for you to implicitly shut yourself out. It’s also sad to see people discouraged to talk to you because they know that you are in fact preoccupied. Let’s not let potentially meaningful interactions pass us by like this.
Switch to speakers instead
Instead, and only if you know they won’t mind, you might want to switch to playing whatever it is you want to listen to on speakers. By doing this, you are sharing not only your music but also the experience. At best, you might find yourself liking the same things, discussing your preferences and, overall, just jamming together. But, again, only if they won’t mind, otherwise it’s just as bad as encroaching on their personal space.
Use it only for long commutes or travel
I know that traveling and being in a vehicle are usually the best times to zone out, look out the window, and pretend like we’re in a music video. But I have two points to this: First, it’s not enjoyable to cram a whole listening experience in ten minutes or so when half of the time, you know you won’t be able to listen to a substantial part of your playlist. And two, if you do decide to keep it on while you’re on the go, it can put you at risk of being in an accident.
This being said, I actually know someone whose airpods fell out of the vehicle she was in while she was traveling home and she almost got run over trying to get it back. So, consider yourself warned.
Turn the volume down at a half or only keep one earbud on
May it be listening to classical music or jazz, listening to music is known to help people be more productive. This is why it’s widely used even in the workplace. But again, this closes us off to people and in this situation, our workmates. Consequently, this makes us less attentive when they need help and can even come off as unprofessional.
So in situations like this where you have to be on your earphones, it probably wouldn’t hurt to turn the volume down to a half or only keep one earbud on.This way, you can listen to music but at the same time, still be available whenever they need you.
In the end, etiquette is all about finding compromise in our actions and its effect on other people so we might just want to reconsider our constant use of our earbuds.
Get more stories like this by subscribing to our weekly newsletter here.