Sean Patrick Cooper in The Millions:
While the methods by which we now acquire our music have had an impact, to a degree, on our experience of music listening, they have remained markedly less influential than the evolutions in the design and application of what we use to listen to our music. In 2008 and 2009, close to 100 million iPods were purchased globally. The widespread use of personal mp3 players and, more importantly, the headphones attached to those players, have gone on to facilitate for a significant percentage of the population a kind of relationship that has never before occurred between music listener and music.
Join the public space and look around: It takes only a brief moment to locate an individual plugged in and headphoned up. Like using an umbrella, headphones serve a particular function, shielding us from the nuisances of the world. Hop on any form of public transportation, plug in, and no longer must you suffer the coughing, sneezing, dry throat clearing, cell phone texting, loud speaker announcing, sneaker squeaking, nervous leg tapping, neighbor yawning, Doritos eating, water bottle dropping and newspaper shuffling that is the shuttle, train, or bus around you. Step off and into the street and headphones continue to serve you well. Why subject yourself to the car honking, police whistle blowing and sidewalk chattering of the urban space when you don’t have to?