AirPods were the best selling product at electronics retail giant Best Buy this past year. Apple expects sales to increase by double in 2019. Everybody is wearing them. In a casual walk around my hometown of Long Beach, California, I counted about 1 in 5 in a hipster-frequented area of the city.

Despite the inconvenience, there is a comfort in wires. They define a maximum radius where the umbilical can maintain a connection from peripheral to the source. In addition to this, they are visible. We tend to trust what we see, and for good reason. Savvy AirPods users have already found ways to enable a “remote listening” mode where they could feasibly leave their phone in a room full of people, then leave the room and eavesdrop on the conversation through their wireless AirPods. We tend to trust what we see.

On a broader level, this represents another, deeper level of penetration of tech into our personal lives. The development of AirPods may prove to be as revolutionary as the release of the first iPhone. Wireless headphones had been produced before AirPods, just as smartphones existed before the iPhone, but Apple has a way of taking these imperfect, fringe technologies and refining them into something that enters the mainstream and becomes ubiquitous. This effect cannot be glossed over, Apple is the tastemaker of the tech mainstream. As such, it is safe to assume that even if Apple loses market dominance to other challengers in the high-end wireless earbud arena, they will still be the new method that people will use to listen to their smartphones.

Marrionette Life

The social media grid pushes and pulls in ways that are invisible until you wake up and know what to look for. Chances are you know this already at some intuitive level. You’re merely looking for words to put your experience to. This grid operates in an infinite number of ways, but it is primarily Pavlovian. When we see the red notification dot hovering over the Instagram icon, a small hit of dopamine is released in our brain, feeding the addiction. The smartphone has already achieved visual dominance. Go into a public area and watch how many people are staring at it, while walking, while driving, while meeting friends for lunch. What will happen eminently with the normalization and ubiquity of wireless earbuds, is large-scale technological control of our second most used sense, hearing.

Despite the secondary importance of hearing in the hierarchy of the senses, it is more intimate in relation to current models. We can conceal a smartphone screen, but others in the vicinity can always catch a glimpse of it. Try opening porn on your smartphone in a public place, see if anyone notices. The earbud, wireless or not, suggests a private mode of listening. You can share one earbud with a friend, but it’s suboptimal, most of the time people are listening in solitude. What’s more significant than the smartphone screen, is that nobody can tell what the earbud-wearer is listening to – it’s their private sonic space. This divorce and hyper-granularization of our experiences separates us. Shared experience bonds us with other people, often across gender, ethnicity, and age.

Take Action

Don’t be an insect receiving transmissions from the hive about where to go, what to eat, when to exercise. Break the connection with the tech-hub and reintigrate into your naturally evolved hive: the men and women in your vicinity.

If you truly want to survive the digital era, as a human with compassion, and intellectual ability, question logically any technology that creates convenience. Any area of your life where convenience is added will allow a strong part of you to wither away, and eventually atrophy. An example: it’s highly convenient to order delivery food for all meals instead of cooking. In a lot of places, you can even eat moderately healthy. After doing this for a few years though, you’ll lose your ability to cook. Convenience breeds weakness.

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