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Tips for Listening to Music in Public

Updated on March 6, 2008

We live in a world where entertainment is literally at our fingertips. Between cell phones, handheld games, laptops, and mp3 players, there really is no need to have to communicate with other people while in public because we are all busy with our electronic forms of entertainment. I commute everyday by public bus, and I can say that I’ve seen it all when it comes to the electronic gadgets people carry around with them. From portable SAD lights to mini DVD players, commuters keep busy. In fact, I’ve seen busy passengers who are typing away on their laptops stop to glare angrily at the people crazy enough to interrupt the digitally loud silence by actually talking to one another.

My tone might sound a bit cynical or sarcastic about the need people have to occupy themselves with electronic entertainment while out in public, but I’m really not. I definitely use my mp3 player in public all the time, and enjoy taking my laptop to the park or local coffee shop. There are definitely advantages, as well as disadvantages, to living in a technological world.

The Advantages of Listening to Music in Public

Ignore the Crazies: This might sound mean on the surface, but it really isn’t. When you are walking along a city street and someone starts to heckle you, the earphones serve as an excellent excuse not to hear what the person is asking (or propositioning) you for. Particularly for women, who tend to be victims of obscene comments when they don’t respond back to these hecklers, the headphones create an excuse to ignore.

Dissipate the Boredom: If you have to wait for a bus, or walk along the same route everyday, it can get quite boring. The ability to listen to music, on such conveniently small devices as iPods and mp3 players, really helps break up the monotony. Plus, even if music isn’t your thing, you can upload audio books onto your device.

Catch Up on Current Events: Some people just don’t have time to read or watch the news, but you can do this if your music device offers a radio function. Not only can you catch great tunes from your favorite station, but you are kept up to date with their news clips.

The No-No’s of Listening to Music in Public

Just as there are advantages, there are disadvantages—which usually affect the people around you more than they actually affect you. For the sake of being polite, try to remember these tips.

Super Loud Volume: Okay, so you love your music, but those little ear phones are stuck inside your ears—there is no reason why someone standing ten feet away from you should be able to hear everything you are listening to. If your music is so loud that you can’t hear someone shouting your name while standing beside you, you have probably seriously damaged your hearing. In tight quarters, like on a full bus, being forced to listen to someone else’ raspy music because they have it up too loud is very annoying. So be aware, for the sake of others, but also for the safety of your eardrums.

Theft: Your super cool iPod might keep you entertained, but it also might make you a mark for a pickpocket. While you are busy jamming out to your favorite songs, someone could easily be lifting your wallet out of your pocket, purse, or backpack. So, stay aware. As well, there were quite a few occurrences in Seattle last year where people forcibly took iPods from their victims in public. Apparently, the white cord was a giveaway that the music listener had an iPod, and not some other less expensive music device. So be warned: you might want to change your earpieces to a different color.

Ignorance of Your Surroundings: Remember how I said listening to music in public offers you the opportunity to ignore people you don’t want to deal with? Well, it can also have the opposite affect—keeping you from being aware of the people and situations you should watch out for. The last thing you want to do is get into a dangerous situation, so make sure you are not so entertained that you don’t know what is going on around you.

One Last Thought: Public Dancing

Have you ever seen someone listening to their tiny music device and busting it out on the street corner? I see it all the time, and find it one of the most entertaining things you can see in public. These people are literally dancing to their own beat. If you haven’t had the pleasure of witnessing this, you must keep your eyes open for it. It is a truly fabulous form of entertainment.


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      Arthur George Rettell jr. ( 5 years ago from AZ. STATE

      They will wish they would have listen to momma about loud music when they are older, ! and the hearing is of ? But that is the down side and the good side is when the wife or husband is yelling to get something done or the game is on, you don't have hear all and maybe it just goes in one ear and out the other, as all the boom boom, even the hearing aids that people can not afford, well you do not have any yur self.

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      Aoun Hussain 8 years ago

      The disadvantages of music are more serious.Those who listen to music like such become abnormal

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 8 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Changing earpieces to a different color to avoid theft good advice.

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 9 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      it's ok to have your electronic devices in public as long as you don't disturb anyone, example with your loud soundsa and also make sure taht you're still aware or what's happening around you and not just focused on your small electronic devices.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 10 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      I worry about people who have to have music in their ears non-stop. I suspect they are mostly fairly non-musical people themselves, using it largely as a comforter, a backdrop to life. Active musicians concentrate deeply on their music and have to escape from it regularly to avoid mental exhaustion. Passive listening seems a waste of time - a poor alternative to thought. Good topic, good hub.