Updated: Nov 1, 2019
For quite a few years now, I find myself getting a bit grumpy at all of the headphones and other contraptions I see plugging up the ears of people of all ages everywhere you go. Our pocket computers have commanded too much of our attention, often distracting us from the world around us (I'm not yelling at clouds, I'm guilty too).
The days of smiling and saying hello to passers by are nearly gone. It's rare to get eye contact, let alone a smile or a greeting, unless you know the person. It kind of makes me sad.
To combat this, I have been intentional about keeping my phone in my pocket as often as possible and engaging with as many people as I can. Even if it is a simple hello or good morning in passing. And I think it's worth mentioning that "good morning" is my standard greeting, regardless of the time of day. I thoroughly enjoy the reactions I get when I use it at 3:30 in the afternoon.
Anyway, I got sidetracked, and I will now step down from my soapbox (I might get back up on it in a minute).
As much as I don't always like the disconnect that headphones, who am I kidding, earbuds have created, I have found a valuable use for them.
I just bought a pair for one specific reason (these are the ones that I bought...they seem to work wonderfully and they are relatively inexpensive): sometimes, my wife needs to contact me when I'm driving a school van with the team. Since I got the OnMyWay app, I haven't touched the phone while driving, and I get paid for it. The vans don't have Bluetooth capabilities like my car, so a phone call doesn't come through the speakers.
I have also discovered a new way to use them productively that doesn't disconnect me from my social surroundings.
Part of my morning routine includes cleaning up the kitchen and making coffee before the rest of the clan wakes up. Now it is far more interesting. I put in my earbuds, fire up a podcast, and I get to learn while putting away the dishes. I wish I would have thought of this a while ago. It gives me a new reason to be excited about my 5 am alarm clock. And with the newest technology, there isn't an irritating cord to get in the way.
In summary, the ear buds/headphones/cellphone infatuation has definitely created a chasm between people and society. But it isn't all bad. We are certainly more connected globally, and Google has the answer to just about every question we could ask; but social interaction, as well as interpersonal relationships and in person communication skills are waning, and it goes far beyond the younger generations.
I think it's important to be mindful and intentional about how we use our devices, especially in social settings. However, don't be afraid to spice up some of your more mundane and mindless solitary tasks by throwing in your earbuds and tuning into a podcast. That's a type of multitasking even I can handle.