A study originally published by the journal Injury Prevention is “big news” on the TV and internet today. It’s a report about the increase in deaths and injuries caused by walking around with headphones on. Really? This is big news? Did we really need a study for this?
Any one who’s walked though a crowed mall, or train platform and has been run into by a headphone wearing menace could have come to the common sense conclusion that walking around with headphones on is dangerous. What I find interesting and sad is to observe just how socially isolated the electronically connected are. Whenever you put headphones on or take out your phone and begin texting or talking in public, you put up an invisible barrier of personal space. You send the message that the people around you are not worth your effort to notice them. They cease to exist in your electronic bubble until you are forced to interact to complete your business or until you bump into them. Once while at the mall, I was run into by a teenage girl, texting away with her face in her phone, who seemed genuinely shocked that an actual person was impeding her forward motion. I have seen families sitting around the table at a restaurant texting to people miles away while ignoring those three feet from them.
I am amazed that I have to remind my kids that leaving your headphones on, texting or typing while someone is talking to you is just plain rude. I thought maybe it was just teenage disrespect, but they behave the same way around their friends, and their friends do the same. It seems we are losing the ability to verbally communicate in person. The manners necessary for personal interactions also disappearing. I think that this lack of civility is as much a loss as that of personal safety.