Today an article about how to approach women who have their headphones in has been the talk of social media. I’ve read some tweets about this and a couple of opposing articles and blog posts, so I thought I’d throw my two penneth in.
I don’t drive, so I walk everywhere or use public transport. I also like to listen to music. These days my iPod is how I listen to about 90% of the music in my life. I wear headphones a lot.
I am also from the north, a wonderland of strangers who exchange pleasantries at the bus stop, humans who will talk to the person next to them on the tram, or make chit chat in the queue for the toilets or in a supermarket.
In short I am a northern woman and I get talked to a lot by complete and utter strangers. Often I will have my headphones in, see that someone wishes to say something to me and so I take my headphones out so I can converse with other human beings. Most of the time I do not mind this one tiny little bit, even when I’m listening to my most favourite song ever.
“Ah!” I hear you cry, “But what about men who want to speak to you?”
I’ve found that most men are fairly decent. Very few of them have clubbed me over the head, dragged me back to their man cave and started calling me wife without my permission.
I’ve found that most men if they have felt the need to interrupt my listening to 90’s Indie music are entirely apologetic about that. Most men, if they had fallen head over heels in love with me (I have had to stop wearing Impulse) are capable of taking gentle rejection in their stride.
I admit that sometimes (because I’m a raging introvert, despite my northern bus stop chatting tendencies) I use my headphones to block the world out and to isolate myself from social interaction. Fair doos. I think a lot of people do that.
But, and this is a big but. Often someone, maybe an old lady will talk to me, I’ll pop my headphones out, whatever mood I’m in I will do this, and I will chat to them for as long as they want or as long as I am able. I might be the only person they have spoken to all day. It’s a nice thing to feel that you may have brightened up a day for a stranger just by taking a few minutes interest in their lives.
Who says this rule should only apply to the over 70’s. If someone wants to chat to me I will chat to them if I can. Loneliness and isolation are a horrible curse, it probably affects the elderly a bit more, but there are plenty of people of all ages who are lonely.
It doesn’t take any time, effort or money to be kind, to exchange a few words with a stranger. Even a smile of understanding can go a long way to making someone’s day. Yes, don’t foist yourself upon someone who clearly doesn’t want to talk to you about the weather, but what’s 5 minutes of your time worth anyway?