Protocol: Headphone Etiquette



All the best to you and yours in 2012! Now that we've got the pleasantries out of the way, let's talk etiquette. More specifically, let's talk headphone etiquette. Every generation seems to have its own set of etiquette issues that must be translated from the previous. And because SEEG is dedicated to all things gentleman, and because the headphone industry has reestablished consumer excitement (with the introduction Beats by Dre and a host of other wannabes), protocol on headphone usage is next on our list in need of translation. Twenty years ago, mobile headphone usage was still somewhat of a novelty. If you did happen to own a pair, needless to say they were probably cheap and you had to replace them every other week. And any quality pair that seemed to surface every once in a while, belonged to their dad’s Pioneer Home Stereo System for which you had to find an adapter to plug into a portable anything. But times have changed. Now you can choose whether you want the cord 3ft or 9, noise cancelling, SuperBASS, WiFi, Bluetooth or all the above. But with all advancement in technology the headphones have made, it seems that very few users (and abusers) give any thought to the people around them who are not wearing headphones. So if you are reading this, be a gentleman and avoid becoming any of the following offenders:

The Obnoxious. I truly believe that at times the reason for this is just pure ignorance; the offender believes his “noise cancelling” headphones means no one else can hear what he’s hearing. On the other hand, there are people out there who really just don’t care. Understandably, we all at some point want get away from whatever we are doing by drowning out the sounds around us with our favorite artist. But everybody around us doesn’t want to get away to the same place. If you truly need to have your music that loud, invest in some high quality closed or sealed headphones like these that will keep your loud music where it should be, in your own ears.

The Oblivious. This guy also likes to have his music loud but for some reason likes to blast it while doing something that requires the use of his sense of hearing. It’s one thing to drown out background noise while riding the bus or train, but it’s just plain stupid to do this while walking the busy streets of downtown anywhere (yes I like the HTC Rezound commercial too). I’ve even seen bicycle couriers do it while weaving through morning rush hour traffic. Just not smart. One of the attributes of a gentleman is that he is educated. This tidbit of education should have become apparent when we learned to look both ways before crossing the street.

The Jackass. This guy seems to think that his headphone usage is appropriate in any and every situation and place he might find himself. Even in places that require him to interact with other people; like when shopping. I've been working part time for a major mens clothing retailer for the last 6 months and it never fails that one of these dudes will make his way into the store rocking out to his own shopping theme music. Do I interrupt him? I mean how dare I do my job well and ask him if he needs any assistance? That would be rude right? Reluctantly I disregard my reservations and ask "Can I help you find anything?"…Silence. Either he didn't hear me or pretended not to. In either case, not cool. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “Men are respectable only as they respect.” Translation: take those stupid headphones off the next you come in my store! (Sorry I tried not to get personal. I failed miserably.)

So it’s really pretty simple, just be courteous. For a gentleman, there really is no consolation with regard to this matter. So if you need to have your music with you at all times, just be cognizant of your surroundings. A gentleman always endeavors to leave a positive imprint on his environment. And at times, his working to not leave a negative one indelibly serves as the catalyst to leaving the opposite.