Halberg: Airpods disconnect us from our peers

Walking through campus has become quite the experience. Different people and agendas, but most bare the same deceiving reality blockers — AirPods. They’re tiny little devils that are virtually undetectable unless you’re up close. These trendy headphones have caused us to become disconnected from the rest of the world.  

Who knows if someone is really listening when they have their Airpods in? We assume they won’t be able to hear us  and leave them alone because there’s a fat chance you’ll be able to yell over their Beyonce. 

With noise cancellation headphones, you can simply cancel out the entire world around you. Nothing else matters until you say it does. But is this reality? When UO sophomore Kate Luerken was asked if she used AirPods to avoid interactions with people, she replied, “Yes, I do. I leave them in to avoid talking to people I don’t have any interest in talking to.” 

AirPods are impactful in a number of ways. They dictate our interactions and define our independence from our environment. In Simply Psychology from 2016, Saul McLeod builds an argument off of Albert Bandura’s work in psychology by communicating that our behavior is heavily influenced by observations of our environment and the individuals in it. Therefore, if everyone around us is absorbed by their AirPods, how can we expect our own actions to differ?

Cordless headphones have recently been accepted by society as 'cool'. Lacking cords that could choke us during a bench press is critical to our exercise routine, but should stop there. By walking around with AirPods, students are tricking everyone around them into thinking they’re actually listening because we can’t tell one way or another. 

We like to isolate ourselves, which inevitably disconnects us from one another. Organic relationships have vanished from our daily lives and have been replaced with whatever our headphones are feeding us. One look into the past and we can acknowledge that social interaction is critical in our daily life and our future.  

In addition to effectively shutting other people out, AirPods are a sign of socioeconomic superiority. The new AirPod Pros cost a whopping $250 and they’re so small that they’re extremely easy to lose. Meanwhile, plenty of college students enjoy 13 cent ramen noodles or 99 cent mac n' cheese for dinner. AirPods have become another impractical trend that only students eating more than boxed dinners for a meal may partake in. 

In an interview with Jimson Bienenstock, he told the New York Times, “We’re a vehicle for human interaction, otherwise it’s just a commodity.” With this in mind, students should challenge themselves to enjoy the world more often with their undivided attention. You might even meet someone new if you show the world you are approachable. Hopefully in the future, what we find trendy and socially acceptable will be within reach of all University of Oregon students.