A trend that I have become increasingly aware of is the usage of headphones by those exercising, walking, or spending any solitary time. This concerns me because when the headphones are in the users lose one of their senses they would typically be able to rely upon for situational awareness. I see this all around NDSU’s campus daily – folks who are traveling about the campus or studying in isolation without the benefit of hearing any potential threats or warnings.
Well, of course I worry about this. Situational awareness is important for everything from crossing the street safely to hearing gunshots to receiving auditory warnings. To cement my worry comes a story out of Minnesota from the Associated Press of a 19 year old woman who was hit by a train while wearing headphones. The woman was found critically injured near the tracks.
I do not anticipate that the headphone phenomenon will change, but I am hopeful that folks will learn from this young woman’s unfortunate accident and pay extraordinary attention with their other senses when they have them on. This is especially important when folks are walking, running, skateboarding, etc. Drivers honk, engineers blow train horns, and people yell – those are warning mechanisms that can help save lives. Be careful out there folks – you may not think you are not missing much, but you are. If you don’t believe me, watch an hour or so of television without the sound. You will quickly appreciate how much you are missing.
Day one thousand three hundred and ninety-four of the new forty – obla di obla da