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The Walker’s Dilemma: An Overanalysis of Listening to Music While Walking About

October 24, 2013 by Daniel Friedland   

So far in this blog, I have talked a lot about different genres and “sub-genres” of music. Therefore, to change it up a bit, I have decided to analyze (or overanalyze, if you will) a “musical” trend I have seen here on campus that got me thinking. My observation is simply the fact that many students walk around campus with headphones in their ears. This seems simple and harmless enough, right? Wrong. Have you ever stopped to think about why people do this or what it achieves? I would like to discuss my rationale regarding what I have come to call “The Walker’s Dilemma.”

Listening to music is a way for the listener to experience an idea or emotion, but to people who walk around with headphones, it acts as a mere distraction. Is it a good thing to have a distraction from reality, even if it is just during a walk from one class to the next? I would argue that the answer goes both ways.

Whether it be taking the listener’s mind off of a difficult exam he or she just finished or simply giving the listener’s mind something to engage in while walking around alone, listening to music while walking around campus distracts us from what happens in our immediate environment. Now I will not bore you with the safety hazards of walking with headphones in your ears, but they certainly exist. Plus, it makes you unapproachable because people see you as too busy to converse with or even greet. The most dreadful consequence of all is the fact that we are not able to clearly see, hear, and experience the scenery and people around us.

Now for the positives. Sometimes we need a distraction from reality, or at least something that occupies our bored or exhausted minds. I must admit that I wear headphones some of the time when walking between classes, and I see it as sort of therapeutic. It allows the mind to reset itself and relax (assuming you do not listen to heavy metal). Also, it enables us to control our mood and mindset, which can be good thing at times. For example, listening to exciting “pump-up” music to boost your confidence before an exam can work wonders.

Overall, there are valid benefits and detriments to wearing headphones while walking around, but I must say that for the most part, it is better to walk around with your ears wide open to the sounds of the world. You never know what you might hear or see. Some of the best experiences in life come when we least expect them, so why not take out those headphones once in a while and see what the world has to offer?

Stay fly and goodbye!





  1. Josh Larimer says:

    I have witnessed this trend basically every day. I do not listen to music while I walk around because I think it could lead to a dangerous situation. I just hate it when I try to get someone’s attention and they are listing to their music and just ignore me. It’s especially frustrating when you’re actually trying to help them too. Nice post Dan!

  2. Sarah Bevilacqua says:

    This is a definite trend, and I see pros and cons like you do. The thing that makes me most upset though is when people listen to music and talk to a friend. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like people’s full attention when talking to them. Another trend is people talking on their phone through headphones, which really confused me at first because it looked like they were listening to music while talking to themselves. Oh well. Good post as usual!

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