Attack of the headphones

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MARCH 08, 2016

One of the most common sights on campus is the headphone-wearing undergraduate. They come in many different varieties and brands, representatives of many different streaming platforms. Among them you can spot the Apple-wearing cult, the Beats by (Corporate) Dre lot, the Urbanears hipsters, the Life-Cancelling Bose bunch and so on. They bob their heads independently to their self-selected life soundtracks, droning out all ambient sounds while enclosed in single-sized studio booths.

The pros of this activity may include constant auditory entertainment streamed at 320 kbps, a pump-up playlist for every passing moment, every second scored like a factory-produced sitcom, your life with a musical laugh track. Turn on, tune in, drop out.

But the cons of this activity also include missing out on all the little moments — on all the ambient sounds and the sonic roses that you could stop to smell if only you took the time. For example, the chattering of friends, the excited cries of surprise encounters, the joyful singing of cape-clad acapella singers, the pink-noise burbling of Strawberry Creek, the amusing appeals from flyerers, the cheerfully repetitive worship songs, the salutary shouts from friends and classmates, the occasional booming didgeridoo, the bright sales pitches of Girl Scouts, etc. ad infinitum. Taken as a whole, Berkeley is a sprawling avenue of bustling sounds and song not available on Spotify.

We at the Clog have no opinion as to whether or not you should wear headphones as you walk down Telegraph Avenue, through Sproul and across campus. In fact, if you choose to do so we even have playlists you could jam out to if you want.

Still, we ask that maybe you leave the headphones at home for a day, just once, and see what happens. Pay attention to what you hear. Wave at the friends you see and maybe even stop to chat. Notice how much more present you feel, and notice how much calmer you are when you aren’t plugged in. Who knows, you might find something new and exciting that you haven’t experienced before, like a new club or group. There might be some new delightful surprise you would’ve skipped over or not heard. Think about it: The number of days you will spend on this campus is finite. Why miss any of it?

Contact Christopher Hewitt at 


MARCH 07, 2016