Earbud Oblivion

An editor was recently reading my college blog and offered the following comment.


“I don’t like your mean posts.  You’re not a mean person, but your sarcasm is biting, and I think some of your posts might turn off readers.”


Since my goal is to keep readers and not lose them, I’ve made a conscious effort to keep it light. For this post, I asked students to pitch me a topic in hopes their perspective would keep my sarcasm in check. Unfortunately, this particular student-generated topic seems to have brought out the worst in me.  Sorry, but here goes!




Nothing says, I don’t want to be here, more than wearing earbuds to class. I can hear the music thumping as you walk by, and although I assume you’ll power down, I’m not entirely convinced. Maybe it’s because you’re not laughing with the rest of the class or moaning when I announce a test. You’re just kind of sitting there, in your own world, wires dangling from your ears. I’ll ask you to remove your earbuds a few times, but then I start to look like that teacher.


At first I thought the earbud thing was just me. Turns out, your fellow students also have an issue with earbuds in class. In fact, they asked me to write this post to let you know it bugs them too. Forget the anti-social message it sends. The real issue is your music, which can be heard within a two-desk radius of your seat. According to your classmates, even songs they like can sound annoying when filtered through a classmate’s headphones.


To test this complaint, I had my son pop in earbuds while I stood within listening range. We chose a favorite song of mine, ‘So Lonely’ by The Police. The frustration of hearing squeaky snippets of Stings’ already high-pitched voice was nearly as torturous as hearing parts of a song I disliked. For that test, I chose “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen.


I nearly lost it.


In summary, be kind to your fellow students and take the needle off the record before entering class.





  • stephwitt3

    Allelujah!! Someone realizes the struggle! First off, it is SOOOO rude to have your headphones on in class, like who are you to not listen to the teacher and just sit there in your own world. News flash, that does not count as attending the class. If I was a teacher I would purposely include a class participation grade because of students like that. It is such a sign of disrespect to make it so obvious that you don’t care and just turn your music up and enjoy your day in your own ears. It is also very annoying as a student, when that person turns around to say “Ummm when is the test?” or “What’s the homework?”. I just want to shake them and tell them to pay attention and maybe they would know. It is amazes me that some people can have such disregard for the people around them. Join the world and participate, you are missing out!!

  • Kmosl

    Wow! Am I reading this correctly? Am I that out of touch? Do students really sit in class wearing earbuds with music playing?!?! I know it has been a long time since I sat in a classroom, but I do not think the rules of common courtesy and respect have changed THAT much. As a student, I would never even think of sitting in class listening to music while my professor is providing instruction.

    On the other hand, I cannot even imagine how I would feel as a professor looking out into a sea of students wearing earbuds and listening to music. It is sad to imagine that professors may actually need to include something in their classroom policies prohibiting such behavior. I just found myself laughing as I am thinking about what my parents would have done to me if they were told by one of my professors that I was in class wearing earbuds and listening to music. Actually, I would not have been laughing at all! Good grief!

    • KrisXO

      Thank you!!

  • nickessernow

    First off I would like to address the issue of your biting sarcasm. I enjoy it and think it is fun to read and shows some feeling. But thats just me.

    AMEN!!! This act is one of the rudest things I see students do today. There is one student in my english class that kills me. My teacher is a sweet older southern woman who is lovely and should be respected. He constantly comes strolling into class with his huge obnoxious head phones in and sits down and doesn’t pay attention. Why bother coming and show some respect. I completely agree with @stephwitt3. People like this are just a waste of time and need to just leave. But if I was a teacher I would also be that guy that would come up to you and take them off for you. Or play such mean practical jokes on you and humiliate you I would become an HR nightmare.

  • Tammie Bailey

    Unacceptable! Just disrespectful! College is a choice, an expensive one. This young man would have to pay me for every minute of my classroom time that he compromised by playing his disturbingly loud music. He should be asked to leave, as he is not prepared to listen or pay attention to anything the professor has to say. He has on headphones and his hair is comb over his eyes. His body language is louder than his music. He’s does not want to be in the c!ass room. College is not like high school. If you don’t care no one is gonna care for you. How can you become a professional without the education necessary to gain employment.The music will become old, the headphones will break but.education will sustance you.

  • sgaspari

    As a student, I would never listen to music while in class regardless of how boring the lecture may be. It is extremely disrespectful to both the students and the teacher, It is possible that many other students may not want to be in the classroom either and they do not have music blasting in their ears to avoid it. Instead, they sit there quietly and at least pretend to listen or take notes, which is way better than rudely listening to music. And to the students who do want to be in the classroom and listen and learn, the blasting bits of music can be extremely distracting and irritating. I believe if you’re going to have the nerve to show up listening to head phones, you shouldn’t even bother coming to class at all and save everybody the frustration and judgement towards you.

  • WCCmatt

    You are completely right with this post. No student should have his or her headphones in during class to begin with. If you cannot hear what the professor is saying, why even show up? If you do have headphones in it literally prevents you from hearing anything else. It becomes a dead giveaway to the professor you do not care or are not interested in the subject matter. In college you are paying for the right to be there and learn something. If someone is so uninterested to the point that they are just going to zone out to something else, why waste your time? If I was a teacher I would never let kids have headphones in, I would just ask them to leave. It is very disrespectful, especially if the volume is loud enough for others to hear it. It is also incredibly rude to the other students who actually care about learning something. I can understand doodling or sitting on your phone to pass the time or something if you feel bored in class because it is silent. But to avoid listening in such an obnoxious way while possibly interrupting other students is very disrespectful and should not be tolerated.

  • KrisXO

    Honestly as I read this blog, initially I was drawn by the headphones in the classroom dilemma. As I continued reading I couldn’t help but chuckle because I could never believe this to really happen! I’m like, come on no one in any of my classes have sat with headphones on. I’m like what school is this? wait this is common..and wait what “LOL”; I would be the student to say something..politely of course. First I thought, well are the students sitting in the class a few minuets before the class begins? Personally I listen to music anywhere I go and tune everyone out, which I will do sitting in class before it begins. Then I thought well is this person walking in late blasting their music as they disrupt the class? Or wait, someone sat in the class with their headphones on…and music playing for all to hear? I wasn’t sure if I grew up in a different world where common sense existed or what? Okay so my last “thought to self” was well was the professor teaching? did the lesson allow for a low work session with your favorite songs? Then to that my reaction was..well that’s acceptable but when the person across the room can hear it, then your music is too loud; Tone it down! As a student, if I was in a class where I had to block out the sound of a classmates music as my professor taught a lesson:well that would not be tolerated by me. This is where common sense comes in, where has it gone? I’m still baffled, well if this is the case as least! I honestly hope all students would speak up if this ever happens to them. Why would I allow someone to interrupt my education..uh not today sweetie!

  • Brigette D

    Honestly I felt horrible after reading this post. I couldn’t believe I was guilty of this crime. I will never wear earbuds in class again. Lol I only do it in a few classes when I’m in a rush I forget to take them out. OMG never again.

  • Michael A

    Personally, when I listen to music through out the school day, it has nothing to do with whether or not I want to be at a certain place. Certain music prior to certain activities motivates me and puts me in the right state of mind to be most effective and productive. However, like with most things in life moderation and respect are key. If I go to the library, I am there to have a quiet place to study, not learn about how much you love lady gaga. Similarly, walking into class blaring your favorite song comes of as pretty obnoxious and makes me wonder just how bad do you really want to be here and be successful. I love music, but there’s a time and place for everything.

  • Stephen Honovich

    I was definitely a major offender with regards to wearing headphones to class both in high school and as an undergraduate student at Suny Albany. However, I always tried to keep the volume low and remove and turn off my I-pod (or CD player, going back to my high school days) when it came time to, you know, interact with other humans. I needed music to relax in between periods, and I figured that wearing headphones and silently enjoying was innocuous. I do certainly understand how hearing someone else’s music blaring out of their headphones can be obnoxious. I relate it to when you see (or rather hear) someone roaring down the street with their windows rolled down and car speakers blaring, or a co-worker who thinks nothing of turning their cubicle into a private dance club. It come across as self-aggrandizing; as if you know what is great to listen to and everyone else should be forced to succumb to your taste. So I guess I come down 50/50 on this topic, listen to music all you want but keep it to yourself and be respectful when someone is addressing you.

  • Joanne Scutero

    Perhaps if those students knew what that loud music was doing to do to their hearing, they would have second thoughts. They may not notice it right away, but over time, exposure to loud sounds (including music) will cause irreversible hearing loss.

    According to the Associated Press, the World Health Organization released a statement on 2/27/15 recommending that use of personal audio players be limited to one hour per day, with the volume turned down, in order to prevent hearing loss. I suspect that’s far less time than most students use them.