Come on, feel the noise: how I unplugged my headphones and reconnected with the world

Worried she was missing out, Ella Glover took off her headphones for a month and rediscovered the soundscape of humanity, made space to listen to friends – and tuned in to her own thoughts

Until about a month ago, the thought of leaving my flat without my headphones connected to my smartphone filled me with anxiety. Any length of time, whether a two-minute walk to the shop or a two-hour commute, with nothing but my own thoughts and the racket of the city to listen to, was enough to send me into a mild frenzy.

This borderline compulsive relationship with my headphones wasn’t something I was even aware of until earlier this year, when my friend, the environmental sound artist Lance Laoyan, noted how headphones not only disconnect us from the reality of noise pollution, but also keep us distracted under the guise of helping us to focus. This conversation sent me down a bit of a thought spiral, of which I am prone, and I became acutely aware of the ubiquity of headphones in our culture and how little attention we pay to it.

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​Worried she was missing out, Ella Glover took off her headphones for a month and rediscovered the soundscape of humanity, made space to listen to friends – and tuned in to her own thoughtsUntil about a month ago, the thought of leaving my flat without my headphones connected to my smartphone filled me with anxiety. Any length of time, whether a two-minute walk to the shop or a two-hour commute, with nothing but my own thoughts and the racket of the city to listen to, was enough to send me into a mild frenzy.This borderline compulsive relationship with my headphones wasn’t something I was even aware of until earlier this year, when my friend, the environmental sound artist Lance Laoyan, noted how headphones not only disconnect us from the reality of noise pollution, but also keep us distracted under the guise of helping us to focus. This conversation sent me down a bit of a thought spiral, of which I am prone, and I became acutely aware of the ubiquity of headphones in our culture and how little attention we pay to it. Continue reading… 


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