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life outside the earphone bubble

er6i-snip.jpgWhile my iPod is probably my favourite gadget, it was the repurposing of musician’s in-ear monitors as consumer-level accessories that made it life-changing. Not only is the sound quality fantastic, but because they fit snugly into the ear canal, they also act as ear-plugs. This makes them invaluable at my gym (which plays awful, awful music), certain noisy coffee shops where I might be trying to read, and on the bus, especially the busses to and from UBC when school’s in session. They are my insulation against inane cell-phone users and muttering crazy people and drunken frat boys loudly boasting of their sexual conquests. All of whom seem to delight in sitting directly behind me. And so I block them out with my Etymotic ER-6is and Westone UM1s. I have no regrets.

However, these are not necessarily robust items, and every 6-to-8 months, they break and I send them back to the manufacturer, who always quickly and politely replaces them, as long as the warranty lasts. (Seriously: Etymotic and Westone both have excellent customer service.) Like right now, for instance. And for a week or two, I am exposed to the sounds of day-to-day life. It’s interesting how much it affects my thoughts. No longer living in my earphone bubble, I spend a lot more time thinking about the people around me: who they are, what they’re doing, and what all our places in the world are. And it makes me more able to engage in random conversation — I don’t have to snap my mind from a pre-verbal state to give directions to a tourist or joke with a cute barista.

But mostly, I’m reminded what of an introvert I am, and how my perfect world might not actually have a whole lot of other people in it.

2 Comments

  1. Eric, I completely empathize with your introversion, and I know my perfect world has a MUCH smaller population than the one I actually live in. Nonetheless, how much are these little baubles?

    Friday, June 29, 2007 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  2. You can get the ER-6i on eBay for around $80-$100, and it generally goes up from there. But the ER-6i is fine for a non-audiophile like myself, and totally worth the investment.

    Friday, June 29, 2007 at 4:30 pm | Permalink