Artifact Politics

Imagine a normal work day, or a school day, or even just a day at home. Everyone goes about their day work, errands, meetings, dates, food, travels, and other normal every day activities. You’ll never know the life of the nice person walking  beside you on your way to class or the lady that just passed you going twenty over the speed limit on the highway. The one thing that separates you from the next person is the ability to make your world private. Headphones were made to allow people to make their music private (1). Many people would agree that music speaks to the soul and it has been heavily integrated into life, especially younger generations.

Anyone with a computer probably owns or has been in possession of set of headphones, Apple even includes headphones in the purchase of an iPhones, iPads, and iPods.  They are a revolutionary invention but have made generations more anti-social (1). Along with allowing persons to make their music private, the possession of headphones have also allowed a type of portable entertainment; for the long wait at the doctors office or the long walks to work or even to break the silence in the car on the commute to work. There are earphones, ear buds, in ear headphones, on ear headphones, and over ear headphones produced by Apple, Sony, Bose, Dre, and other electronic companies. The idea to be able to listen to music without disturbing those around you or being able to use audio hearing devises wirelessly are two revolutionary thoughts, but with great ideas comes great responsibilities. Although headphones and Bluetooth car connections make enjoyment and communication easier for the common technologically advanced American, it has also further isolated younger from older generations and people in general.

Growing up, before elementary school students had access to cell phones, kids talked and laughed on the bus. Now, if you sit on a school bus there may be some talking but most kids will be staring indifferently out of the window with their headphones in or immersed in their cell phones. Although headphones has given musicians the opportunity to expand their abilities, they have also given their users the ability to clock out of reality and immerse themselves in a different world which is a favorable thing for most people. Dr. Michael Bull stated, “People like to control their environment […]” (1) In families, the younger rebellious teen would turn to headphones and ignore arguments, siblings, and even word of parents. This has resulted in a giant, awkward, gaping hole between parent and child and as a result the important family connection is then at risk of being lost. On a college campus, a large number of students walk to class listening to music. Having headphones in has essentially granted the user the right to ignore who tries to interact with them. Private music creates a social medium where a someone is comfortable with people around but does not wish to interact with their surroundings.

As a result of the divide between parent and child and between individuals, social gatherings have become less abundant, lunch get-togethers have become less conversational, and dinner time has become less about family. Being an independent person has become a goal in who we want to become because people are scared to be dependent. Dependence has been thought of as a sign of weakness and the price of independence is often loneliness, and being lonely is obviously better than being weak in the eyes of society.

Regina Yu


1. The Atlantic: “How Headphones changed the World.” 30 May 2012


3 thoughts on “Artifact Politics”

  1. I completely agree that the growth of “private” technologies has made society become more anti-social in regards to person connection. I too observed the decrease of interaction between kids at the lunch table in high school due to the allowance of ipads and headphones. However, I also see this method of disconnection very helpful if used appropriately. I can not say how many times I have craved headphones when trying to get to bed and am putting up with my loud dorm neighbors. Or even to help me relax after a stressful day or keep my mind occupied while exercising.


  2. I completely agree with you on this topic. I like that you chose the headphones, because headphones and music is such a big part of my life. I agree that our society is much more likely to just blankly stare out the window with headphones in, than to have conversations and laugh with each other. Some do it because they’re avoiding contact. In my case, some just like listening to music. I agree that music can hinder my productivity when i’m trying to get work done. But it depends on the task. I find that listening to music while doing math or doing chores doesn’t affect me. But if im reading, i need silence. Overall, I enjoyed this read.


  3. I find your argument true that having headphones has allows us to retract from society more and more. However, after having read the iPod blog that gave me the idea that being able listen to music on our own allows us to put us in our own world and possibly make us more creative, are headphones really so bad?


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