My possibly unpopular opinion on social interactions…

A friend of mine posted on Facebook yesterday about something that bothered him so I thought I’d share a few of my own thoughts on the subject. His post was about his opinion on the “fad of people popping in headphones the second they get up from their desk, in the elevator, etc.”

I read through the comments and made my own as well on the topic but here I want to fully invest in my opinion on the matter, so let’s go.

To start, I think that it has completely become the norm to pop in headphones at any random moment, be it walking to the bus station, heading to the break room or moving through the line in a grocery store. We all have our reasons. For some it is an easy distraction or a way to pass time and for others it is a way to let people know that you are not open to conversation without actually having to be a butt and say you are not open to conversation.

After reading the post my friend wrote as well as the comments that people made in response I became bothered by the fact that this “anti-social” act seems to offend or upset others. To me it seems silly that people are frustrated with their peers decision to abstain from socializing on their own time.

I personally am “that person”, the one who will put on headphones the moment I am on break because it’s my break and that’s the way I want to keep it. Is that wrong? No. Socializing is supposed to be a positive and fulfilling experience, in my opinion that means that all parties involved are there because they WANT to be.

I have more introvert qualities than extrovert. I can be social and the center of a conversation when I choose to be but most days I like to lay low. Why should I be looked at with annoyance because I don’t want to engage with my peers? I shouldn’t. No one should. Interaction for some takes more energy than can be imagined by those who are ‘social butterflies’.

Another issue I have with this whole topic is this; I have had days where I didn’t pop in headphones the instant I stepped away from my desk and hit the break room and still never wound up engaged in a scintillating conversation. Why do people think that the headphones in everyone’s ears are the real reason conversations aren’t happening? If someone wants to talk to you, it will happen. If not, it won’t happen…simple as that, headphones or not.

My main problem though is that it seems as if some people feel like they are entitled to a social interaction with their peers strictly because they are in the same place at the same time. No. It does not work that way. Social interaction is a two way street, there must be give and take. If my attention is not given then that means it is not your right to be offended if it does not become yours to take.  

I’m going to stop myself now because I can feel this post is only going to get longer and longer with my thoughts when I’m really eager to know your opinion on this. Does it bother you when you see your co-workers/peers choose their headphones over chatting? Do you think it should matter to others if you slink off to the break room with your music as your lunch date? Are you someone who always slips headphones in when you have a spare moment or do you hate when you witness this action from your peers? If I’m not the only one with an opinion on this, let’s discuss!

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12 thoughts on “My possibly unpopular opinion on social interactions…

  1. Like you, I prefer the inner sanctum of the music in my mind over the often mediocre office banter. I refuse to apologise for it and neither should you. Your time, thoughts and energy are yours to spend however you choose. Just because you are in a room with another human being doesn’t automatically mean you’re BFFs. People should be more comfortable with the sound of silence! Just my humble opinion. V

    1. Thank you for giving us your feelings on this V! I think you summed it up nicely when you said “Just because you are in a room with another human being doesn’t automatically mean you’re BFFs”.

  2. I have no problem with people using headphones except I’m always warning my older kids about not hearing traffic or not being aware of danger around them if they are cut off from the world when auditory flags may help avert accidents. I don’t use them myself but I only talk if I feel like it too. 😉 x

    1. I do agree that they should not be worn at times that can cause a threat to their safety. This was more about those times like lunch breaks or other times when you could potentially talk with other people. I think it’s good you only talk if you feel like it. That was my whole point, even if you aren’t wearing headphones it’s still your choice to engage others. When I don’t have mine I still keep to myself when I want and socialize when I am compelled to do so. Thank you so much for your opinion on this!

  3. I believe that if you want to have headphones in then it’s fine..is it anti social..no I don’t think so…there are loads of individuals including myself who are naturally more reserved then others…it doesn’t bother me if I see someone with headphones in ..and for those who don’t like it don’t look….simple….leave us alone lol

    1. Thank you! I don’t think it’s anti-social either, but even if it were I still think it’s okay. Some people just don’t want to socialize in certain instances and that’s okay. I’m so happy you shared your thoughts 🙂

      1. well there’s enough of them who are so eager to allow the rest of us who aren’t on the other end of their mobiles in on their conversations…like i want to hear about so n so’s love life mingled with gossip about someone’s cousin or neighbour lol but i don’t have a problem with headphones they can still say something to me good lord i will take them out if they are that desperate to talk to me lol

  4. I never noticed. However, I do understand both perspectives, one more so than the other. If conversation is what one seeks, start it, headphones in the ear should make you more creative on how you start the conversation not dissuade you. Again, if conversation is what you’re seeking.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts Vonnie! I wonder though, why are people so eager to have a conversation with someone who is obviously not open to one? Headphones in my ears mean I am placing my attention elsewhere: on the music or on my thoughts. But that’s just me. I’m glad you can see both perspectives, more people should be open minded that way!

  5. This “fad” has been around pretty much since the introduction of the Soundabout (shortly thereafter re-named Walkman)…

    I actually see both sides (it’s a curse).

    I spent a good chunk of my twenties and thirties walking around while listening to tunes through headphones. Mainly because I loved music, but also because, as an introvert myself, I often needed to create my own space while I was out and about (especially during the five years I was living in Tokyo). Sometimes, though, I just didn’t want to be bothered.

    For two reasons, I eventually stopped.

    One was the realization that there’s so much music playing just about everywhere we go that I was actually getting tired of hearing music. (On the way to this realization, I went through a Japanese noise phase; the aural chaos often felt oddly cleansing I came to understand that I occasionally needed a break from the constant din for my own peace of mind. The joy of silence…

    The other was the realization that I often used music to distract myself from my inner thoughts—and, sometimes, from the world around me. Not having music constantly playing (whether through headphones or not) opened me up to better engage with both others and myself.

    That said, on occasions when I had to take the bus, I would normally take my minidisc player and headphones with me. A history of anxiety means that I sometimes feel anxious and/or claustrophobic in the cramped confines of crowded public spaces, so having something listen to during a bus trip helped me feel more at ease.

    (Of course, headphones aren’t necessary in the car—unofficial reason number three.)

    Without having read the original Facebook post or ensuing discussion, I’m guessing that the person was thinking more about the people who automatically use their earbuds and headphones to shut everything else out—people for whom this is default behavior, people who seem to never take the things off.

    That *can* be frustrating, because it is necessary to engage with others as we move about the world; if, for example, someone is wearing headphones or chatting on their cell phone while at the checkout counter, or at a table in a restaurant, they’re not engaging (at least, not fully) with the people (in these examples, the cashier and the server) they *should* be interacting with. I’ve seen too many people in those situations effectively ignoring someone face to face.

    *Those* people (along with people who move through life staring down at their devices, seemingly never looking up) are robbing themselves (and sometimes others) of potentially enriching experiences. Social interaction is indeed a two-way street—that becomes a one-way street if one of the lanes is always blocked off.

    But, as the Pearl Jam song “Not For You” says, “if you hate something, don’t you do it too”. All the guy can really do is to not engage in that behavior himself.

    1. great thoughts on the matter, Kevin! I understand the curse of seeing both sides of things, I too am the same way. For this topic though, I am sticking to my guns and saying that if a person wants to slip in headphones when they have spare moments that’s fine. Just like you, one day these people will decide it’s their time to attempt to be social, it’s their choice when that action takes place. I think to be angry or annoyed or offended because someone doesn’t offer their time is silly. Who wants to feel forced to talk to someone? I think its a waste of energy to brood over what someone else is, or in this case, isn’t doing. I agree with your final statement that all people who are oppose to this “fad” can do is “not engage in that behavior”. Thank you for sharing Kevin!

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