Wearing earphones means “Leave me alone” or “I am prey”? Depends on who’s wearing them.

Today I woke up to the beautifully bright sun and decided to walk to work. The walk usually takes me about an hour and though I’m often good at keeping entertaining trains of thoughts in my mind, I opted to keep a restful mind by listening to music and to additionally drown out the noise of wheels on paved roads and cars ripping through the winds with the occasional squeaks and honks. Nearing the half mark of my journey to the office, a lady narrowly jogs by me on the left as I had selfishly positioned in the middle of the sidewalk. I apologized because I did not hear her footsteps behind me with my loud music sending its loud vibrations to my ear canal, and regrettably did not look behind me as one often does.

A few minutes later, I see the same lady running, but this time in the reverse direction where I saw and could get out of her way. I saw her mouth moving so took out one earbud. She began telling me how what I’m doing is a dangerous thing. Confused, but also apologetic of getting in the way of her running, I apologized and nodded in agreement. She continues and lectures me about how she, a 48 year old woman, who could be my mom, does not want to harm me, but she had called out 3 times and I couldn’t hear her. She then described me, a young, beautiful (ego plug, but those were her words) girl, walking alone and distracted. She said this is what they prey on. Whoever ‘they’ is I do not know, but surely I can assume. She ended by saying that I need to be less self-absorbed. Flabbergasted by an unforeseen lecture so early in the morning and unaware of my dangerous and “self-absorbed” behavior, I just thanked her and continued my walk to work, but with a few notches of volume lower on my earphones.

I heed her words and am appreciative of the concern she has. I can understand why she wanted to tell me how I am not cautious and evidently distracted. Though I do not agree with her description of what I was doing as “self-absorbed”, I understand that I do need to be more aware of my surroundings.

However, I am saddened and a bit irritated by the fact that she thought she needed to warn me. If I was a guy, or an elderly lady, or some other person that’s not a young girl, would she have done the same thing and tell them they’re doing a dangerous thing? Would she tell them they’re prey? Would she tell them to be less self-absorbed because they need to be more vigilant of their surroundings?

I am saddened by her actions because it shows her fear of society and fear of the worst in people. I sensed her fear that something could happen to me because I wasn’t being cautious, especially because I am prey. Listening to music and walking is a normal thing, right? There are lots of people walking around with earbuds in. It’s almost like a sign of “leave me alone” right? Because with earphones in, one is uninterested in listening to anything else but what is playing in their ears. It’s a sign that the person does not want, and maybe can’t hear what’s outside of their earbuds. But is my earphones a sign of “Don’t leave me alone”? I have them in so I am distracted, does that welcome strangers to prey on me?

Today I felt my freedom was jeopardized by my actions. That for some reason, what I do is a call to society to limit what I should do if I want to stay safe. It is more of feedom than freedom if I have to give up some of what I prefer to do in order to ensure my safety. How is a girl supposed to live her life freely if she is limited by the fear of what others will do because she is seemingly being suggestive of vulnerability? Why do I have to take extra precautions, because I am a girl? Why do humans prey on other humans, are we that weak and can’t control our actions?

Maybe I am too ignorant to believe that there are people out there preying on me or other people they sense to be vulnerable due to their own distractions. I know what could happen, I know people do not always have the best intentions, but I like to believe that that’s not the case for people living in my neighborhoods. I like to believe that people aren’t always on the lookout to attack and be predators, because we are supposed to be in control of our animalistic instincts and have reasoning that makes the human race a higher and more evolved species. Maybe my choice in not believing in the bad is stupidity, but I feel that belief in the bad is the fuel for these terrible events. People will think the worst and judge others and the judgments becomes expectations, and then it may become reality. But if we set the path to diverge from these bad expectations, we won’t expose people to the terrible ideas that can become realities. We need to foster the expectations for safety and eliminate the danger that unfortunately is caused by our own human race. The sad part is that people are the fear for people because we think of each other as prey and predators.

If there is reason for vigilance in society, then peace can never take root.


About Lynn Vo

I am just another mind with a laptop and fingers that type out the thoughts that invade my brain. I like to share these thoughts because it's extremely selfish of me to keep these thoughts open to only one person who has access to it. Share your thoughts with me and I'll keep them safe.
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