The day before yesterday I noticed a disturbing trend. Two people that I came across, one at the bar and one at the store afterwards, were wearing ear protection. Not music headphones, although really the same applies. These were both men, and they were wearing large ear cups, the sort that have a noise reduction rating of 30+ and would normally be worn by the ground crew on an airport runway. I have no problem with ear protection. There are a lot of instances where people should wear it and don’t. However, I do have a problem with that sort of hearing protection in a social situation. Call me old fashioned, but it goes against two things that I believe in.
In any situation where there are other people around me, and I choose to completely block out my sense of hearing, then I am in effect saying “I don’t need to listen to you. I know everything I need to know, and so I am going to go out in the world in my own bubble and ignore everything around me.” Now men, especially young men, are notorious for believing that we know everything about everything. We are also notorious for not knowing much at all. I have a problem with someone who advertises to me that he does not need my input at all. It’s a lot like those palm gazers, the people buried in their phones who are still pretending to go about regular life while they read the latest message on their screen.
My second problem with the headphones (and the regular phones for that matter) is that they instantly identify their users as sheep. The number one thing we as human beings can do to prevent evil in the world is to PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND US. If you are blocking out your hearing with headphones (or your vision with an iPhone) you are not paying attention to your surroundings. You are trusting someone else to do it for you. That is fine. You are a sheep. Please be aware that the wolves are watching, and don’t complain when one takes advantage of you.
I know that it’s a brave new world, and that we are all super self-involved, and self-important, but I am going to continue to keep my eyes on my surroundings, and I’m going to wear my ear protection in the proper place:
Hunt the wolf. Protect the flock.