Sound and Scents

24 Jun 2008

can't hear ya ma

Once upon a time, listening to music via headphones was considered a form of anti-social behavior, a way to shut out the world. So of course as a teenager, I reveled in the walls that I could create with my walkman. Yellow Sony Sports was my fave. As we moved to discman days, I rocked the chonky ear goggles. They signified hip-hop and served as a caul for my aloof attitude.

Now in the iPod era, headphones lost any stigma of standoffishness. We all share in the experience of using the same operating system, and paired with social media, it can be an act of social inclusion – witness the Silent Raves.

cant Wont Dont Stop

And so as part of the ongoing experiment that is my life, this past month I opted to go sans headphones/iPod, to see if it altered the way I interacted with the world. Eye contact picked up more, and I’ll admit to a spike in furtive eavesdropping, but no great epiphanies to speak of.

And then last Thursday morn I put my headphones back on – and my world went a tad bizzaro. My sense of smell perked up. Lose one sense, and others come to the fore. And since I couldn’t aurally understand the actions and intent of those in my peripheral, I became wary of other people. I did not truly think they sought to cause harm, but could not shake the feeling of being on guard. Human as we may be, I felt almost like an animal negotiating the city space, instinct being the trump card to reason.