Istock_girlearphonesOver the last week, I’ve taken the GO train (our commuter rail system) into and out of Toronto several times. On each occasion, I saw scores of people listening to MP3 players. Sometimes I even “enjoyed” their music, six seats away. Climbing the stairs from the subway to the packed streets of downtown T.O. at rush hour last night, I looked around and noticed that people were not turning off their MP3 players. The telltale white iPod cords were still snaking up to their ears. How loud do you have to turn up your player to drown out the sounds of the streetscape? VERY LOUD.

Maybe I’m becoming a little old lady, but I refuse to stick my earbuds in if I have to turn up the volume past the halfway point on my iPod nano. At the gym, I click the device off if the ambient noise of runners and weightlifters drowns out the podcast I’m listening to. While on the subway, I read. Walking on Yonge Street, I feel that I need to hear the traffic sounds to be safe. I’d hate to damage my hearing and get run down by an errant taxi at the same time.

I’m really concerned, especially for the 20-somethings who have 50+ years of ear-destroying listening ahead of them. Prediction: The hearing aid biz is going to get really big.

For some tips on saving your hearing, here’s a recent article from Wired. The money quote:

Like boiled lobsters, damaged ears cannot be returned to their previous state.


  1. Donna, you are not old, just part of society. I’m with you! I hate those earbud thingees… I hate seeing people in my office wearing them (I am banning them soon). I passed my friend jogging one morning wearing them, I said “hi” and she didn’t hear me! MP3 players and earbuds are for those who want to shut out the world, their friends and life in general .. there is a time and a place for them, and a volume level …

  2. As one of those earbud-wearing 20-somethings myself, this post is a great reminder that maybe I should take it easy with the volume.

    Thanks for the link to the wired article, Donna!

  3. Julie, you raise a whole other issue: the social isolation caused by earbuds! Last week someone referred to these folks as “bubble people” because they’re in their own little world.

    Parker, good. Turn down the volume!!

    Paull, I always said you were a wise guy. Sorry, no exceptions for the Trafcom News Podcast or the Forward Podcast. You raise an issue that came up on For Immediate Release this week: insurance for podcasters. I’ll be blogging about this soon.

  4. Thanks for the reminder and the link. I also liked the analogy in the Wired article about wearing a path through grass vs. the blades springing back. As for the genetic component, this is very bad news for my iPod-wearing sons, whose grandpa’s hearing is failing fast!

  5. The other ailment they risk is tinnitus; I know from spending far too many hours in front of large PA stacks running lighting for rock bands that tinnitus really sucks! Even the quietest moments are destroyed.

  6. I am wondering why this hearing problem did not occur to you the first time some car with an amped-up stereo a hundred yards away drew your attention. Why do you think Costco started opening hearing aid centers in their stores back about three years ago? Oh well, you got to the party.

  7. What really gives me a fright: a cyclist listening to an iPod,(sans helment, of course) on the inside lane as I’m trying to make a right turn. Yikes! I care less about his/her hearing than I do about my safety.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here