When leaving their dorms in the morning for a long day of classes and meetings, there is one item that most Boston College students can’t forget: their headphones. Whether it be studying in Bapst, walking the quads to class, or eating lunch at Eagles, you can almost always find students with their headphones in around campus. Why have students become so obsessed with continually using their headphones? Is the growing dependence on using headphones negatively impacting the amount of social interaction on campus?
It seems there are many possible explanations for why students would be listening to music on campus: maybe they simply want music to make their school work more interesting, need it to drown out their surroundings as they study, or just want to jam to their favorite songs as they walk around.
Lily Mesterhazy, MCAS ’22, shared that she usually uses her headphones on campus, “as a way to destress before classes or to give myself a little time to myself during the day.”
Similar to Mesterhazy, Maggie Droney, MCAS ’22, uses music as a pick-me-up during the day to keep her motivated and cheerful. “I use my headphones each day whenever I am on the bus in the morning or walking between classes. In the morning, it helps me wake up and get in the zone for school,” she explained.
“I’m so used to listening to music in my car before school because I used to do that every day in high school, so it has become a habit here. Music to me is a huge mood assistant and helps me whenever I need a pick me up or a calm me down from class.”
But of course, with the growing amount of headphone use on campus comes the criticism that it is greatly reducing social interaction among students. Listening to music can stop someone from hearing a polite hello. In fact, many students put in headphones with the sole purpose of avoiding conversation with others.
Desiree Lewis, MCAS ’22, shared that she usually uses headphones to, “avoid having to have awkward conversation with the people around me on the Newton bus.”
Whether or not students are purposefully using their headphones to avoid engaging in conversations with others, the constant use of headphones on campus has a negative impact on the amount of social interaction and friendliness at Boston College. Seeing others with headphones on can give the impression that they are focused, and do not want to be bothered. This can oftentimes stop someone from approaching a peer to say hello, regardless of how focused the person really is.
Older generations often criticize Millennials’ ability to interact with one another, citing technology as a crutch that hinders socialization. While headphones are a wonderful tool that allow for individual music preferences and relaxing, they can also cut people off from the outside world.
However, some students attempt to maintain social interactions while still listening to music. Kate Devereaux, MCAS ’22, stated, “Personally I put one headphone in so that I can listen to my music, but also have a conversation with whomever I’m walking with.”