The atomic bomb, birth control pill, television, and the automobile are all candidates for the most influential invention in human history. But there is a dark horse candidate often overlooked due to its simplicity and accessibility: headphones.
Headphones, also known as earbuds, are a genius invention. There is a unique market for every style and budget, and their utility is second only to the phone they complement. The amount of relationships this technology has saved over its lifetime is extraordinary. Entire rooms of people can simultaneously listen to completely different things without having to hear what any other person is listening to.
This wonderful phenomenon can only ever be ruined by one thing: the guy who refuses to wear earbuds.
Unfortunately, it is almost a guarantee that at some point in your life, you will run into someone who does not seem to possess a pair of headphones. A survey by Womensday.com found that calling someone without earbuds is one of the biggest pet peeves among the general populace. Likewise, Survey Monkey found that 22 percent of people say loud music is one of their pet peeves. If you subject other people to unsolicited noise and disrupt their day, it is time to take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror and think about the pain you have caused them. But there is an antidote to this social poison, and it comes in all different shapes, sizes, and price ranges to suit the user.
By following these steps, the people who loudly project sound from their devices in public can be rehabilitated.
Admit the Problem
Like every single process of rehabilitation, the first step is admitting the problem. Seldom when confronted about the possibility of wearing headphones will someone see the light of day and acquiesce. Often, people do not want to admit they have a problem and cannot be helped.
If you approach your friends with kindness and empathy, however, and express that when they play audio out loud, it bothers you, they may value your friendship enough to stop. Unfortunately, this method only works on people you know personally. This will not work for the everyday person whose boisterous sounds you must endure on the bus or in public settings.
This approach is developed from the biblical notion that “iron sharpens iron” — mutual respect between the two parties enables both to prosper. Likewise, this method only works if the offending person listens to your appeal to conscience.
Acknowledge the Personal Benefits
If the offending individual does not care if he annoys others, there are also personal benefits to owning a pair of earbuds: privacy, personal style, and social pressure. Plus, different earbuds have additional benefits, such as being able to clearly listen to your phone in a crowded area or being able to use noise cancellation when you need to focus. Regardless, once the problem is acknowledged, the second step is to find a pair of earbuds.
Just Buy the Headphones Already
I am willing to bet that most middle-class Americans have owned a pair of personal headphones at some point in their lives. For a while, Apple gave a pair away with every iPhone, and occasionally commercial airlines will provide passengers with a free pair. Headphones are not rare items, nor are they particularly difficult to obtain. Purchasing them is probably the most popular option; a pair of wired earbuds on Amazon costs about $15. While not my personal choice, these wired headphones are an affordable solution that allows the purchaser a wide array of customizable options.
A more expensive headphone option would be a pair of Apple Airpods. While not everyone owns an Apple device, the company’s products are generally decent in quality but tend to be more expensive. You can buy these for anywhere between $75-150 depending on which type you buy. While this is a giant step up from the $15 earbuds, a wide array of benefits come from going wireless.
Beyond this, people can also seek out luxury pairs of headphones such as Beats or Bose. While it is unlikely the average person will immediately make the switch to these, it helps to know all the options. After someone has picked out a pair of earbuds, it is time to encourage him or her to make use of the purchase.
Because humans are creatures of habit, it is likely that at some point, new headphones users will revert back to their old ways. During my road to recovery, I often found myself outside of my dorm room without a pair of earbuds. I often forgot to grab them before leaving for class each morning. This is likely a common occurrence, and people who are trying to adopt the headphone lifestyle will probably resort to blasting music without regard for others a few more times until they really figure it out.
The best way to fix this is to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior. Remind offenders that their noise is bothersome, and be thankful when they are mindful of others. Eventually, if a noisy offender truly wants to change and you are a positive figure in this process, he can evolve into a productive — and quiet — member of society.