Ditch them. You just might hear the world calling your name.


I hereby dub them Generation Deaf and Blind.

 I’ve always been vaguely offended by people who walk around wearing headphones, and I only recently realized why. Both my parents were profoundly deaf. I grew up watching them struggle to communicate with others, often misunderstanding and, in turn, finding themselves misunderstood.

So I never took hearing for granted. More than once as a boy, I pressed my hands over my ears, trying to simulate the experience of deafness. Other times I pretended to be Superman, equipped with superhearing to function as a surrogate for my parents.

Why would anyone deliberately tune out sound from the world around us? Granted, music makes us happy. Headphones give us control over what we hear, as well as when and where. They insulate our ears from the din of jackhammers, car horns and the noise of daily life.

The trend toward wearing earpieces in public is unmistakable. Apple has sold more than 300 million iPods since its introduction in 2001. A 2014 survey found that the average millennial wore headphones for nearly four hours a day, and 53% of them owned three or more pairs.

But pedestrians who tune out the sounds around them are taking a real risk. The number of people in the U.S. seriously injured or killed while walking in public and wearing headphones tripled between 2004 and 2011, according to one study. In 29% of those accidents, a warning—such as a horn, siren or shout—evidently went unheard.

People are free to impose such sensory deprivation on themselves. If, in commuting to and from your job, you prefer to listen to music or a podcast than to hear birds warbling or the wind rustling the leaves or an infant giggling as a puppy licks her face—or for that matter, a speeding ambulance honking at you to step aside—be my guest.

Even so, consider the alternative. Ditch the earpieces once in a while, if only as a change of pace. Listen to the sounds around you, a luxury that eludes more than a million deaf Americans. You just might hear the world calling your name.

~ Bob Brody, from “The Case Against Deliberate Deafness. Constant use of headphones creates hazards and muffles the music of daily life.” (wsj.com, Feb 8, 2018)

Photo by ShannonVanB


  1. I am SO there…we create isolationism when we need more than ever to see the world in a shared perspective. Addicted to looking down at our phones, earbuds implanted – it is astonishing how much is being missed. It makes me so sad

    Liked by 4 people

  2. sorry Bob, can’t hear you, am shaking my head to the rhythm of some violent music…. 😉

    Seriously, I only wish that everybody wearing headphones most of the time was obliged to read this. But of course, they won’t – because they haven’t got their ears free to hear this message!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We only use to drive in Paris about once a week but I swear, every time we nearly ‘load up’ a person, walking into the street without looking left nor right, either texting, talking, or listening to something that has got nothing to do with anybody else in this world. It’s exasperating, sad, worrying and dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All true. I use to meet people at the gym, now no one speaks to anyone, they are in their ear plugged world.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Can you hear me now?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I wear ear buds in the gym and love them! After a long day at work they transport me to a place of pumping rock and roll and I de-stress while going into my own private Idaho. I still say hi to people, take them out to chat, and wave across the room. They’re fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I so agree with every word of that. When I see people out for a run through the woods and across the beautiful hills, or along the seafront (all in my locality), and they’ve got their ears stoppered up, I wonder what music could be more beautiful than the birds, the wind in the trees and long grass, or the swishing and foaming of the sea. I never wear headphones, ever, ever — indoors or out. But I do cover my ears when cars or motorbikes without silencers roar past, or ambulances, police cars, or fire engines pass by me with their sirens blaring. That’s called protecting my ears so I don’t end up deaf and unable to hear all the sounds of nature. Hearing is a precious gift.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. My thoughts exactly. Are you listening, David? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I wear mine in the gym on the treadmill with music blasting to really get my pace going. I still wave at people, and say hi. When I’m out in nature, I want to hear what she has to say to me that sometimes comes in a whisper in the rustle of grasses on the breeze, or seagulls calling out to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There is much to be said for time away from gadgets in the name of therapeutic silence.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. But, here is the thing, there are people that don’t hear the world calling their name. They just don’t pay attention, with or without ear buds. It’s like there’s noise inside there heads that distracts them. Breaks my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. i love to hear the sounds of real life around me.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am going to write a comment ‘on the topic of headphones or earpieces at my own blog because my comment is too long to put here. You have an interesting outlook on headphones. In my comment (that will be written shortly), I offer a whole other way in looking at headphones or earpieces. Hope you find the time to read it in your spare time.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have to wear my ear buds when I’m writing or arting in a public place. The noise of other people, the espresso machines, traffic fray my nerves. I need some control over the chaos and barrage of noise. My ear buds connect me to voices and rhythms I know and want.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I am SO much less exhausted in public when I wear my earbuds – I cannot take the overstimulation of all the noise and chaos. I also wear them when I listen to numerous audiobooks. I’ll never have enough time to pass tired eyes over pages at the day’s end, so this is my solution. And since I don’t participate in network news, it gives me a choice to be informed via podcasts. So I’m a huge fan. But I wear earbuds what, 1% or less of my life? And I can hear what I need to, even with them on. Cheers, David!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I’m totally with you Bela, I do the same in same situations. Especially amid noise and chaos.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, and I understand your meaning as well as pertains to nature. I guess I don’t tend to emphasize it in the same way because it’s always how I’ve lived – awakening to birdsong and wind in the trees – and sometimes the pounding surf in the distance (when we hear that, we beat feet to the cliffs where we’re sure to see amazing waves!). Living with no streetlights with stars visible in the billions.

        I also hardly pick up my phone(!) We have lousy reception here, as with any other place we have lived in decades. It’s just foreign to me, how so many are married to their devices and live in concrete and steel communities. I think it’s great you are questioning stopped up ears in this way – though when I plug mine with my buds, it’s a lifesaver. There, I’ve written a more comprehensive response! Aloha, and hope you’ve had a nourishing weekend! ❤

        Liked by 2 people

  16. I almost never wear earbuds in public and rarely at home; (I share a one bedroom apartment with my husband so we’ll wear earbuds when watching a video or listening to music to allow aural privacy.)

    When I walk in the woods, I make it a point to count all the sounds I hear — my footsteps, the rustle of dried leaves, a small animal chik-chikiking nearby. On my walk yesterday, it was so blessedly silent and then I heard a tap-tap. Looked up and there was a lone woodpecker. Later, one lonely goose honking.

    What is the point of being in the world, certainly in nature, if you insist on shutting yourself off from it all?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My thoughts exactly.


  18. Follow back 🙂


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