These days, it seems like everybody has wires sticking out of their ears. And by “everybody” I mean most people under 30, and many people over the hill. These wires are usually connected to something and that something is usually a device that creates excessive blaring directly into the person’s brain via the ear holes.
These devices usually have cryptic names that still sound to me like those made-up futuristic words they always use in cheesy sci-fi spy movies:
Villain: I shall activate my IPod, you old geezer, and then I will MP3 you with my HD Wi-Fi Bluetooth DAP Digital Audio Player!
Hero: Not so fast, young non-baby boomer person under 30! I have a Sony Walkman and I will load it with my “cassette tape.” Oops, I have forgotten to rewind it!
Villain: Ha ha, you fool! Your silly headphones covering your large ears are no match for my Dolby 5.1 Quadraphonic Ear Buds that I have buried deep into my ear canals! Mwhahaaa!
Yes, we used to occasionally listen to “records” through large headphones that looked like a couple of black candy bowls strapped to your head, but we only did this when we were alone, in the private vicinity of our own “record players.”
Now they have those “ear buds” — so-named on account of they are supposed to be your ears’ best friends. And I suppose they are, if your best friends are constantly screaming loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage. These ear buds fit right into your ears, mere millimetres from your fragile, sensitive ear drums so that they can deliver massive sound waves directly into your brain while causing only semi-serious damage. And the inner ear has, from what I vaguely remember from Grade 11 science class, several sensitive parts with weird names such as the anvil, the hammer, the circular saw, the stirrup and the cowboy boot. You don’t want to damage those things.
So these audio delivery devices can store approximately one jillion songs in a piece of plastic the size and thickness of a credit card, due to a highly technical process known technically as voodoo. And they are wired to ears everywhere, which often means that they are wired to brains as well.
This creates a number of serious social and humanoid issues that are serious enough problems to be called issues:
Issue No. 1: Digital voodoo audio devices are capable of volumes exceeding the decibel level of a shuttle launch. This means that the business to get into with a sure-thing lucrative future would be the hearing aid business. Also, when teenagers aren’t plugged in — which amounts to approximately 45 minutes per day, not counting their average 14 hours of sleeping, they are wandering around with their ears ringing, and their brains frazzled from constant exposure to lobotomy-inducing sonic boomage from their DAPs.
And let’s face it, Lady Gaga at 200 decibels for nine hours and 15 minutes a day can cause serious brain damage. That’s why people talk so loud when they have earphones on — their brain isn’t working correctly.
Issue No. 2: DAPs are creating a world of isolation. Society seems to be increasingly populated with humans keeping to themselves, wires coming out of their ears, deeply engaged in Katy Perry or Nickelback instead of engaging in conversation, or even observation. Completely missing the ambience of the world around them, which consists mainly of other people keeping to themselves.
Music doesn’t seem to be as much of a shared experience anymore. People used to slouch on a couches and floors around a stereo listening to albums and studying the big cardboard works of arts we used to call record jackets. Nowadays when groups of young people congregate they — to modify a phrase from the day — plug in and drop out. Sitting wired to their DAPs, clutching their ubiquitous cellphones, texting their friends who are slouching right next to them.
This is having a profound effect on our social fabric (denim). In a few short years, the population will be not only be hearing-impaired, brain-frazzled middle-agers, they will be introverts incapable of interaction and conversation. Much like today’s computer programmers and customer service representatives.
So whether you see a person out for a leisurely walk or an excruciating run, or sitting on a bus, or talking with friends, or operating heavy machinery, you’ll see them with wires coming out of their ears. But try not to worry about the fact that this is producing an entire future race of withdrawn, incoherent music-obsessed citizens with various levels of hearing impairment, at least they have filled their brains primarily with music. And that can’t be a bad thing, can it?
Unless for some reason it became cool to fill all those ear buds with polka music. Then the entire future of the human race really would be in serious trouble.
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays.