I understand that what I am about to say may be controversial to most.I also understand that there might only be a small portion of our generation that will identify with my stance on the matter. Still, this needs to be said: You should not be wearing your AirPods on the path.
Apple’s AirPods hit the market in December of 2016, and by Christmas of that year, based on my own observations, a substantial amount of Gen Z owned a pair. From then on, they have become an everyday accessory for a variety of reasons. They are easy to sneak into class if you wear your hair down or your hood up, and they allow an easy escape from the stress of day to day life. At last, there was a way to play your music in public without having to call attention to tangled wires or bulky over-ear headphones. They are noise canceling, easy to take on the go and virtually disappear when in use, but therein lies the problem. AirPods inhibit vital socialization and can pose a physical safety risk when walking on The Path across campus.
According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic in 2019, “Socializing not only staves off feelings of loneliness… [it] helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, increases your sense of happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer.”
In order to stay mentally healthy it is important to stay social and engage with the community around you. The commute to and from class provides a perfect opportunity for interacting with close friends, classmates and acquaintances. It is important to be receptive to the people who are attempting to communicate with you. Whether someone is addressing you in order to say a quick hello or trying to invite you to join them for a meal, it is important to be able to engage. These small interactions are a reminder that we all matter to the tightly knit campus community.
Beyond your mental well being, wearing your noise canceling headphones poses a safety risk at all time. Since the population of students with bikes seems to be increasing, bikers should be using verbal passing cues, and it is hard to hear those warnings while blasting your music It is also important to be able to hear oncoming cars. Drivers have a responsibility to pay attention, but students aimlessly and unexpectedly walking into roadways can jeopardize everyone’s safety.
At night time especially, it is important to pay attention to your surroundings. While Drew’s campus is relatively safe, we do reside on an open campus and share this property with wildlife.
I am not saying that you should ditch the AirPods that you paid good money for, but I am asking that you find a way to keep yourself both healthy and safe. As many of my peers suggest, you can only listen to music in one ear—a great and easy solution for many of the problems discussed above. We live in an era where the physical world and technology go hand in hand, and now we are tasked with finding the right balance between the two.
Featured image courtesy of wikimedia.org