Did you hear that? The bird that just tweeted (no, not the blue and white one on your phone, the one above you in the tree). The sound of wet leaves sticking together under your feet. The way your pace has a certain rhythm that no one else can match perfectly. The conversation between strangers you just passed by that makes you think to call your mom. The jingle of a cute dog’s collar. You looked down to change the song, and you missed your chance to smile at the girl who really needed to see someone else’s smile today because she was missing hers.
Do you have earbuds in right now? Please, I need you to take them out. I need you to hear me, really hear me right now.
You, me, our generation, we need to unplug, but for a reason you may not be thinking about. Yes, we need to stop scrolling so much and address our addictions to social media. And yes, we could probably stand to take an entire day or week off of every digital network just to remind ourselves that the world still turns without them. But what I really want to talk about is why we need to take our earbuds out. Just the other day while passing between classes on campus, I counted 22 people with earbuds in or headphones on in a span of five minutes. That may not seem like a huge number but I want you to picture all of us walking around our schools and cities. Maybe you’ve even noticed it yourself, all the people around you who are plugged in and tuned out.
Here’s the problem with it: there is life to live and beautiful sounds to hear every moment of every day. But if we’re plugged in 90% of the time, we are only ever getting 10% of the full life experience. Trust me, I know how good it feels to plug your ears with your newest favorite song or the podcast that you learn so much from. I get it, I love that feeling, too. But I believe we are missing out on some of the most beautiful feelings in the world, the feelings that come from fully experiencing life in its rawest, most uncurated state.
By constantly plugging in, we are constantly in control. Of the song, the episode, the volume. But through this constant control, we are becoming ignorant to real life and dulling its existence with our actions. We are walking willfully blind to the little intricacies and funny details that a day can hold. We are telling life it is not good enough, our morning walk that it is not fun enough, we are telling the sounds of life that they are not worth listening to.
We are tuning life out when we should be listening in. There are so many unique sounds and experiences that we will never hear in our ears and never feel in our hearts if we are plugged in all the time.
So, I urge you. Take out your earbuds and listen to life. I am willing to bet it may just sound a little more refreshing than your playlist today.1