Skip to content

Cancel culture

I’ve had noise cancelling headphones for years now, mainly for use when flying [1]. I don’t particularly like in-ear buds though, as I have what are called ‘convoluted’ ear canals; in-ear buds tend to be painful after a while. And I also like to be able to hear a car about to run me down while I’m standing the crosswalk cutout “because the car is too low and they scrape otherwise”.

However, a friend of mine talked up the new AirPods Pro, and noise cancelling and transparency mode, so I got a pair when they were on sale.

And they are growing on me! Yes, I can still feel them in my ears hours after I take them out, but being able to walk down a busy street and not hear the Dodge Challengers blatting by, or the leaf blowers, is great! The former will probably kill me though.

The real use case for me though is the gym. I don’t have to listen to the loud crappy music and I don’t have to jack my music up to damaging levels to block it. They aren’t quite good enough to negate it without playing music, but it’s close. I didn’t have to listen to the woman next to me on the treadmill have an hour-long conversation [5].

They were a fucking lifesaver at the SFO airport during a three hour layover [6]. I’d still rather have the over-ear NC for the plane, as it’s more comfortable sitting there, but for trucking around the airport trying to find the unmarked Polaris lounge, the AirPods Pro 2 were amazing. Sanity-preserving.

This brings up the bigger question though. Now, instead of the world being quiet, and trying to make it that way, I’m just blocking out more of it. Judging from what I see, it’s not just me. People shouldn’t be talking on the phone in the gym [7]. It’s rude. The gym shouldn’t be blasting music, what’s the point if 85% of the customers are listening to their own music? Everyone in the gym has NC headphones on, or in. Challengers, Mustangs, and motorcycles shouldn’t be so loud.

NC headphones just normalize the rudeness by letting rich people opt out. And so the world, or rather, the USA [8], becomes a bit worse place to live.

In summary, get off my lawn. I am not a crank.


[1] Another in a long list of things that was a PITA to get work to buy for you when they first came out [2] and are now standard items in the catalog jacked up by 25% over regular price don’t even ask about trying to save the government money by buying things on Black Friday
[2] Razor, iPhone, AirPods, iPad, MacBook Pro, ergonomic keyboard. I still can’t get them to buy me an Aeron [3], the only ergo office chair I’ve ever been able to sit in for any length of time – so I bought two and took one to work. And I still can’t get them to buy the Bose NC headphones, even though those work way better than the Sony [4]
[3] there are about three different ergo chairs that I bought with project funds floating around that killed my back, but no returns, and you don’t get to try them before you buy.
[4] Which auto-power off every time you disconnect the cable to get up to go to the toilet on the plane, but don’t auto-power off when you take them off and put them in the case, and which 50% of the time require an update to work at all on the plane even though you powered them up the day before to make sure they didn’t need an update, and which drain their battery even when not in use, so don’t forget to plug them back in the day before a trip.
[5] I could see her lips move. Also who’s up at 5am and wants to talk to you? And why bother being on the treadmill if you have enough spare breathe left over to carry on a conversation?
[6] Really SFO, and United? Why do you think we need loud crappy gym music in the airport and on the plane at 11pm? Five other airports and planes on that trip were just… quiet. No music anyway.
[7] or on the plane. Thanks EU for making that happen next year.
[8] Not that Europe or Britain is better, but the biggest thing that makes me want to put in NC ear buds there is the fucking church bells, and the birds. Maybe something to do with not letting their cats run wild? There is way more of a dawn chorus. Not Oz levels, but still, in urban Munich?