Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

AGAINST HEADPHONES: A very short manifesto

Getting blown to bits by tiny bytes and bits, the sound so loud, what was that you said? Brick Street reads in at about 110 decibels -- about the same level of intensity as a car horn constantly on from 5 feet away. Get plugged in, loaded up, tuned in, turned off

and zonked out.

No time for thinking while getting engineered from both sides. Both ear holes taking a beating from the offices of some glass tower record label.

They (not you) decided who should win the Grammy but we can't even remember last year's results.

I told you those sounds make me feel empty yet here the majority of y'all are each weekend, each and every morning, evening, afternoon and between classes getting blasted. We're lonely too, closer than ever but moving further apart. Shelly Turkle explained this in "Alone Together," but at the end of the book, told through the story of her own anxious, depressed and cell-phone addicted daughter was a defense so weak it is almost laughable. This is the price we pay "to have all this great stuff," that was essentially the conclusion.

Return to the thin strips of propaganda dangling from the skull holes. When not in headphones, loud outside blasting constant from some rented speakers, vowels and consonants blended in violently from shouted "conversation." I hear your voice on Mondays in class, hoarse and haggard.

Getting sold, but y'all I like it too. Those things aren't good for us, I'll say it now. I have some here on my desk; I rarely wear them and never in public. I lost them for several months before that.

I see you driving, biking and walking with headphones in. Sometimes we yell at you but often you're too zonked to hear it at all.

Never alone: can't be alone with my thoughts for more than 5 seconds. Gotta check it, gotta look at it, gotta hear it, someone look at me, anybody. Let's leave the lights on and the TV blaring all night for my half-sleep -- won't make it to my 8 a.m.. TV talks to itself while air conditioning cools empty residence hall rooms. "Are you still watching THE OFFICE?" To think, like, that in such a place I led such a life

of utter depravity.

Have you lived anywhere without streetlights and screens? I have stood under a snow squall near midnight; the wind rolling through hedgerows, there was no light only this low howling, bending branches and an ominous wooden creaking.

My peers, like children in the backseat, strapped down, DVD player on, Disney in, unable to tell what's growing outside the car windows. Pacified. Not that children can care anymore: their world has been colonized by noisy machines including the parental shuttles and dangling cobra-head street lights; roadsides coated with glaring advertisements and occasionally a church billboard reading "HELL IS REAL" (by the way, it's here). Who would want to hear what these people have to say any way? I fear for you all, dear readers, fellow listeners. You're going deaf but by the time a specialist or a team of specialists identifies your addiction you wouldn't want to hear what's going on outside the advertisements any way. There's no meaning outside the corporate fantasias, right?

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

Alternately, a real goal outside of the vacuity of corporate-led education would be to never say anything that could be quoted by a marketer or propagandist. To sound like a threat is a noble goal. If what is known about roving mircophones is true, that the NSA or whoever is always listening in, I hope I'm on every list they have.

This is the special, on sale now, final low price self-organized one-time-only act-now every moment open air mental prison where you are unable -- no, forbidden -- to focus.