Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Is wearing headphones making us more stupid?

Yesterday I learned that ad genius John Hegarty gets cross when he sees young creatives arriving at work wearing headphones.

This got me thinking. People often talk about what headphones put into our ears but rarely about what they keep out.

We use them as a way to travel around in our own pod, to keep the real world and the other people, of whom hell is said to be comprised, at bay.

This has to be making us less aware of the sounds around us, the music of speech and the riches of overheard conversation.

I'm assuming Hegarty feels that people with eyes and ears open are more likely to be stimulated and therefore more likely to come up with good ideas.

If I get an idea - even a mediocre one - it's always when out walking. I'm going to monitor myself and see if it's more likely to happen without headphones.

I've just been to collect a parcel from the post office and immediately realised I'm far more likely to talk to myself without headphones. This is a good thing.


  1. There's a short video of Hegarty's views on wearing headphones at

  2. A year or so ago I heard (I think it was) Lee Mack on radio 4 with a riff on why people used to wearing headphones all the time didn't like stopping "Nah, couldn't get used to it, thoughts kept coming through..."

    Plenty of similar good lines on same theme I am sure.

  3. The first message the headphones send out is 'Don't talk to me'.

    I'm pretty sure McCartney said he won't have a ipod because he wants to hear the sounds of the birds, the traffic, the conversation etc. when he's out and about.