On Campus, Opinion

30th November 2023

Headphone Culture – is it time to turn the music down?

Opinion pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflect the views of Liverpool Guild Student Media or Liverpool Guild of Students.

Campus Headphone Culture

Walking around campus you’d be more surprised if you weren’t surrounded by a melee of people all listening to their music, all intertwined and yet so distant from each other’s life. It has become for many impossible to do anything without music constantly playing in the background. Listening to music is no longer a social activity shared with friends or peers but one that allows us to remain untouched in our social bubbles of solo listening.

The Over-ear Headphone Culture

In our lives, the progression of music has been immense; from the availability of streaming and listening to music on the go to the growing fashion of headphones. In 2012, the headphone industry saw a 32% jump in revenue and since then has never looked back. Whether it’s noise cancelling, sleek or bulky which headphones you use have become critical to people’s personality and style. As in-ear headphones have fallen from grace, over-ear headphones are sitting on a pedestal that tech companies are scrambling to reach. And they’re everywhere! To me, the people who wear these over-ear headphones just seem to ooze an air of cool. Their love for music is bigger than yours which they prove with headphones hung around their neck like a diamond. 

Image Credit: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Personalised Music

In today’s world what are we if not our top played track or latest favourite album; Spotify wrapped wouldn’t be such a crucial aspect of the year if people weren’t so intrinsically linked to music. The accessibility of music is so free flowing, downloading a simple app on your phone and you’ve got millions of songs at the touch of a button. The novelty of CDs and radio seems to be simply a thing of the past, no longer do the charts capture the interest of audiences – why would it when users can listen to music of their choice and not someone else’s? This portable music only further adds to the melting pot of headphone culture. Music choice is so individual and personalised that apps create personalised playlists based on your listening habits!

The Serenity of Silence

Since moving to Smithdown there is nothing more enjoyable or relaxing to me than a walk around Sefton Park. Fresh air, nature and getting my steps in; what more could you want? But honestly, the thing that makes it is the chance for me to think, disconnect from my phone and just have even half an hour with my thoughts and no noise. I think it’s so important to sometimes just be in silence as the world goes by. Try to take in everything around you and appreciate what you can hear and not just what’s blasting out of your headphones. Research has shown that spending time in silence can help to reduce stress and tension, stimulate creativity and even promote better sleep. It’s an important aspect of mental health that we often overlook in our busy, noise-filled lives.

Image Credit: Photo by Alisia William

Now, whilst I’m not a keen headphone user I do understand the enjoyment of music whilst you work or if you need an upbeat playlist for a walk; sometimes music is enjoyable and necessary in certain situations. They can aid concentration, especially in noisy environments, provide a sense of comfort during stressful situations, and entertain us during downtime. 

The Necessary Balance

However, the key seems to me to be balance. If you have had your whole day and not had one minute of silence or without any background noise then maybe this could be something to try. As uni students we spend all day absorbing information, listening to peers, and maybe absorbing information about societies or extra-curricular activities; so I think appreciating the silence and quiet after a long loud day can be good for you. Try setting aside time each day without headphones. This could be during a walk, meal times, or even a few hours before bed. It also may be worthwhile to check the volume levels of your headphones, keeping them at a safe level to prevent damage to hearing. There are many apps and tools available that can help with this, ensuring that listening to your favourite tunes is not inadvertently harming your ears.

Image Credit: Photo by Alisia William

It seems clear to me that taking even a little bit of time a day without headphones in or music playing can be crucially beneficial. This not only allows our ears to rest but also opens us up to engage more with our surroundings and the people around us. Maybe try some journalling or meditating as a way of reflecting noise-free, even if it’s just 5 minutes. It might even be worth having some background music on out loud rather than out of a pair of headphones. In a world that is becoming more closed off, don’t use a potential force of togetherness as a device to shut the world out.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash