Earbuds spur anti-social behavior while emerging from pandemic

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Lauren Hassell ’22

Earbuds have become the accepted norm when listening to music in school. However, this habit should be ditched in order to encourage meaningful social interactions while emerging from an isolating pandemic.

Lauren Hassell ’22, Staff Writer

In the era of AirPods, listeners feel even more connected with musical artists across the world. While this connection may be comforting, the listener is simultaneously creating a sensory bubble of solitude. 

People tend to steer clear of those wearing earbuds because they seem preoccupied. The unspoken truth about earbuds is that they are commonly used as a tool to avoid social interaction. However, in the midst of an isolating pandemic, anti-social behavior is the last thing students need. 

At the start of the 2020/2021 school year, many students had not seen each other since the end of March 2020, when the quarantine first began. Reestablishing social connections is not an easy task, especially for high school students who deal with social anxiety, even in the best of times. For most students, the only opportunity for social interaction during the average high school day is in the 5 minutes between classes. 

Despite this, it is not uncommon to see the vast majority of students strolling through the hallways with two pieces of plastic pressed into their ears. It is almost impossible to get the attention of these individuals without waving a frantic hand in front of their face, and probably scaring the life out of them in the process. In order to revive friendships, students must unplug and be aware of their surroundings. 

In order to revive friendships, students must unplug and be aware of their surroundings. ”

— Lauren Hassell ’22

When not in the hallways, Staples students can be found outside when the spring months arrive. I love to eat lunch outside in the courtyard under the warm sun. I find the numerous groups of people sitting together and talking to be refreshing, so seeing the occasional earbud wearer is, personally, off putting. 

My immediate instinct is to wonder why these people choose not to play their music out loud. I wonder if social norms have caused teenagers to be self-conscious about their taste in music. However, a split second of walking past someone with music playing is not the least bit irritating or judgement-inducing. 

Playing music out loud also offers opportunities for interactions among students. I can imagine a student walking up to another and joyfully discussing their similar taste in music. This scenario additionally breaks the anti-social behavior often associated with listening to music in public. 

Whether it be in the hallways or in the courtyard on a spring day, earbuds should not be the accepted norm for avoiding social interaction or listening to music. Without earbuds, students open themselves to meaningful in-person conversations with others, something many of us have been deprived from as a result of the pandemic. My solution: ditch the earbuds and embrace person-to-person interactions with peers.