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Tuning in: a month without headphones

For most people, being plugged in is a daily occurrence. Whether it’s small earphones or big Beats by Dre, people love being connected with their music everywhere they go.

For one student, the challenge is to put down the headphones and pick up on what’s going on around her.

Kayla-Renée Ossachuk is a Media Arts and Culture student who basically lives with her headphones. On Oct. 4, she gave her earphones away and started blogging.

“I was lonely the first week. People would walk by and glance at me.”

The idea came from one of her classes. They were discussing people using their phones as a music device and how we always seem to be listening to music. Walking around campus, with or without friends, people always have headphones in.

“Just after we had that conversation, I decided to walk home without my headphones and I made eye contact with someone walking by. We exchanged a few words and kept going. If I would have had my headphones in, I would have missed that interaction.”

She explained that people have lost touch with what is public and what is private space. Ossachuk also feels that we don’t try to make connections.

“When people are at home, they’re now always connected with texting, Facebook and Skype. In public spaces, people no longer want to talk to others. Instead, we put our headphones in and avoid people.”

She said that it’s uncomfortable being around people who all have headphones in and might be laughing at something, yet she doesn’t know what’s going on. She adds that she’s now a people-watcher.

Instead of repeating her story every time she meets someone, Ossachuk launched kaylarenee.blog.com She says it’s the best way to get her message out there.

Although she doesn’t miss listening to her music all the time, there’s one time in her day that she really wishes she could use earphones.

“The gym is the worst. I really wish I had them then. I never knew how much people made sounds while working out. Grunting and heavy breathing, I need to block it out!”

After her one month without headphones ends, she doesn’t know what will happen.

“I gave my headphones to a friend and he probably won’t give them back to me until I ask. But who knows what might happen. Maybe I won’t want them. Or maybe I’ll take them back but only use them when necessary.”

She invites anyone to give it a shot and see what happens.

“Give it a try. You’ll definitely meet new people and make connections you wouldn’t have if you had your headphones in.”

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