Author Topic: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home  (Read 4195 times)

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TootsNYC

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2014, 05:33:59 PM »
If you're doing a puzzle or drawing, other people can observe what you're doing, and you can often converse with them idly.

Reading a book, of course, not so much.

I'm not saying it's completely wrong all the time. But it does send an isolating message, and if that happens too much, it's very unfriendly and offputting.

People have much the same reaction with books as well. People are thought to trump entertainment. And when your entertainment shuts you off from other people, it can become problematic.

Yvaine

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2014, 08:25:16 PM »
I'll offer another perspective (I don't know that I agree with it, but I understood when my mom explained it to me).  She finds that it is contradictory to be in the communal area yet put off solitary vibes to the people who are there.  Putting in the headphones to her shuts out everyone else, which is fine if you are in public with strangers who have no expectation of communication or if you are in a separate room for alone time.  However, if you come and are sitting in the living room where people in the house gather, she feels bad when you then don't "gather" with the others who are there. 

It's like eating dinner as a family or at a dinner party - there's a social expectation that people will participate in conversation and carry their weight.  If you joined the dinner table and then expected to just eat your food while not interacting, it would put others off for sure.

There's also thE fact that you cannot share what you're doing with other people. They can't hear your music, or watch your TV show with you. Both of those things would help them learn more about you, create shared experience (which bring people together).

It's a very isolating thing. And inside the family, that's really awkward. And it's extra awkward if you're doing it in the shared space.

The same can be said for reading a book, writing, solving a puzzle, drawing, etc. There is a time for social interaction but there is also a time for more individual activities. Doing them in a shared space (as long as it is not disturbing) is a wy to make it less individual, not more.

Yes! I've had some lovely mellow evenings where my SO and I both sat and read or wrote, while snuggling on the couch and making occasional idle conversation. I really value that in a relationship, actually--the ability to sometimes do our own thing separately-but-together. Obviously this isn't every interaction, but sometimes.

Cali.in.UK

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2014, 06:25:20 AM »
I live in a house of six and when I prepare dinner, I like to listen to storytelling podcasts (TAL, Moth, Risk), which is definitely not for everyone and sometimes the content is very...unexpected. I listen to my headphones because the kitchen can be loud and I never know if another housemate is going to come down and start using the kitchen at the same time as me.
I can definitely see it being frustrating if you need to talk to SIL but he might, like PPs have said, just be trying to be polite in his own way but not forcing you to listen to his music or podcasts.
You could lightheartedly mention that you never know when he's audibly occupied and ask for a signal or something when he's listening or not listening to something. Example: making eye contact when you enter a room or something like that.

camlan

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2014, 06:40:04 AM »
I'll offer another perspective (I don't know that I agree with it, but I understood when my mom explained it to me).  She finds that it is contradictory to be in the communal area yet put off solitary vibes to the people who are there.  Putting in the headphones to her shuts out everyone else, which is fine if you are in public with strangers who have no expectation of communication or if you are in a separate room for alone time.  However, if you come and are sitting in the living room where people in the house gather, she feels bad when you then don't "gather" with the others who are there. 

It's like eating dinner as a family or at a dinner party - there's a social expectation that people will participate in conversation and carry their weight.  If you joined the dinner table and then expected to just eat your food while not interacting, it would put others off for sure.

There's also thE fact that you cannot share what you're doing with other people. They can't hear your music, or watch your TV show with you. Both of those things would help them learn more about you, create shared experience (which bring people together).

It's a very isolating thing. And inside the family, that's really awkward. And it's extra awkward if you're doing it in the shared space.

The same can be said for reading a book, writing, solving a puzzle, drawing, etc. There is a time for social interaction but there is also a time for more individual activities. Doing them in a shared space (as long as it is not disturbing) is a wy to make it less individual, not more.

Yes! I've had some lovely mellow evenings where my SO and I both sat and read or wrote, while snuggling on the couch and making occasional idle conversation. I really value that in a relationship, actually--the ability to sometimes do our own thing separately-but-together. Obviously this isn't every interaction, but sometimes.

Note that you can make the occasional idle remark. The trouble, for me, with ear buds or bluetooth, is that you really can't. In fact, as the OP says, you have to attract the other person's attention first, then talk. Not something I'd want to do every time I had something unimportant to say.

For me, the use of earbuds at home, as opposed to at work or on the subway, etc., signals that the person doesn't want to be interrupted. (I almost typed "bothered by other people," because that's how it seems to me.) It's one thing to send that signal at work, another thing completely to send that signal at home.

And it's to the point with the OP that she simply doesn't talk to her SIL much of the time, because of the need to check to see if he's occupied with a conversation or music or whatever he's listening to.

And that's a problem for people who share housing. The OP should be able to say, "Dinner will be at 6:30 tonight instead of 6:00," or "Please pick up some orange juice on the way home from work if you want some tomorrow," without having to spend time checking for earbuds, making eye contact, waving her hands in front of SIL's face. Getting his attention could take longer than delivering the short message she needs to give him. 

Because the habit of using bluetooth or earbuds is affecting the other members of the household, i.e. the OP, I think maybe having a talk about limiting the use of the devices, or restricting which rooms they can be used in, or some other compromise, might be in order.
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Specky

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2014, 10:53:47 AM »
I would feel it would be rude of me if I were to expect people to forego listening to music or podcasts or audiobook, or whatever they were listening to just to be "available for my conversational convenience".  Especially so, if they were using the earbuds to enjoy something without forcing everyone to listen.  It is really not an inconvenience for me to make sure I have their attention before speaking.

When we gather for a meal, or some other family participatory activity, they take out the earbuds and interact.  I don't find it reasonable to expect them to not listen or enjoy something, say music while loading the dishwasher or the washer, just in case I might want to say something.

I believe that many of us assign meaning to earbud/headphone use by others by what use would mean to us when we use them ourselves.  If you use them to send a "leave me alone" message, then perhaps, you assign that message to whomever is using them.  In our home, earbud use is viewed as a way to enjoy something audio or audio/video without disrupting others.  It is not exclusionary or isolating in meaning.  It is sending no other message than "I am listening to something and don't want to disturb others with what I am doing."  (generic you).
« Last Edit: April 23, 2014, 10:59:19 AM by Specky »

TootsNYC

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2014, 11:18:13 AM »

When we gather for a meal, or some other family participatory activity, they take out the earbuds and interact.  I don't find it reasonable to expect them to not listen or enjoy something, say music while loading the dishwasher or the washer, just in case I might want to say something.


I guess my reaction is that when people live together, they are getting "togetherness time" out of activities like loading the dishwasher. That's usually *why* you live with someone, actually--you want to spend all sorts of little, unimportant moments having interactions with them.
    Those little, incidental interactions are what create the fabric of a relationship, of a family.

Earbuds work against that. So in small doses, inside the family home, I think earbuds are OK. In large doses? I think they're problematic.

Specky

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2014, 01:10:07 PM »
I realized that I have looked at this situation based on my family dynamics.  In our current homelife/work/school situation, we have tons of face time.  We have a lot of interaction throughout the day.  In our situation, earbud use is a courtesy and has never had a negative impact on communication or togetherness (or the willingness for any of us to interrupt the earbud user, or be interrupted if we are "earbudding").

However, I can see when face time/togetherness might be limited by work, school, or other things, anything that might be perceived as getting in the way of that can be problematic.

Toots, I think your comment about conversation while loading the dishwasher made me realize that. 

Outdoor Girl

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2014, 01:49:43 PM »
I'll offer another perspective (I don't know that I agree with it, but I understood when my mom explained it to me).  She finds that it is contradictory to be in the communal area yet put off solitary vibes to the people who are there.  Putting in the headphones to her shuts out everyone else, which is fine if you are in public with strangers who have no expectation of communication or if you are in a separate room for alone time.  However, if you come and are sitting in the living room where people in the house gather, she feels bad when you then don't "gather" with the others who are there. 

It's like eating dinner as a family or at a dinner party - there's a social expectation that people will participate in conversation and carry their weight.  If you joined the dinner table and then expected to just eat your food while not interacting, it would put others off for sure.

This is kind of where I fall.  But then, I'm a bit of an old fogey.  My nephews were constantly listening to music, with their earbuds in.  I think my brother must have finally said something because they don't seem to do it as much any more.  They both like to study in the communal areas - one at a desk, one at the dining room table.  They do wear them while they are studying but take them out the rest of the time.
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Ravenish

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2014, 05:46:10 AM »
I have a podcast I listen to twice a month. Which I do in one of the more comfortable chairs with a cup of tea and surfing the internet occasionally chuckling to myself. (It's not an explicitly funny podcast but it's bizarre in an enjoyable way) if a flatmate is looking to get settled I check if they're happy hearing what I'm listening to, otherwise I just biff my earphones in. Granted I've also gotten into the habit of wearing just a single earphone in but that's because at work it's a habit for me and my colleagues to do so as we've got a monotonous job but do need to keep an ear out for edicts issued from on high (boss relaying from other teams whether something special needs to be done with a particular batch)

Edit: How the ehell did I forget to put my point in.

I view ear buds as a way of enjoying a communal space in the way you want and not forcing your activity on another. Granted people around me long enough tend to make sure they have my attention before talking to me regardless of earbuds. But that's because I'm a space case when doing anything. Heck, I've not heard people talking when I've been cooking before.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2014, 05:53:47 AM by Ravenish »

miranova

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2014, 11:42:11 AM »
This is one of those situations where degree matters.  Dh and I occasionally watch something on our laptops with headphones when we know the other person is not interested (racing for him, Downton Abbey for me) but we don't do that all the time or even very often.  Moderation is key.  I also think there is a big difference between a husband and wife and a mother and adult son.  There is a different relationship there.  I am not trying to be offensive because I don't mean he shouldn't care about how his mother feels at all, but I think one owes one's spouse more interaction than they do to their parent.  As long as there are some shared family times, I don't see why an adult should have to always be available to interact with his mother.  Living in the same home doesn't mean he is obligated to always be available for conversation.

nolechica

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2014, 11:22:22 PM »
It partially depends on the degree to which people respond with earbuds in.  I put earbuds in to listen to YouTube without heckling as to my music choices, but I'll answer if spoken to, even while listening to music.  Not everyone does this.  When I lived with my parents, if I wanted my mother's attention, I had to physically get her attention.  Given the age of SIL, his hearing isn't that of a teen, so they may have a more muffling effect.  However, if you limit earbuds/bluetooth, you may see less of him.  I know if it were my family you would. 

Lynn2000

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2014, 10:47:16 AM »
This is one of those situations where degree matters.  Dh and I occasionally watch something on our laptops with headphones when we know the other person is not interested (racing for him, Downton Abbey for me) but we don't do that all the time or even very often.  Moderation is key.  I also think there is a big difference between a husband and wife and a mother and adult son.  There is a different relationship there.  I am not trying to be offensive because I don't mean he shouldn't care about how his mother feels at all, but I think one owes one's spouse more interaction than they do to their parent.  As long as there are some shared family times, I don't see why an adult should have to always be available to interact with his mother.  Living in the same home doesn't mean he is obligated to always be available for conversation.

POD to this. I'm not saying the OP is being unreasonable, not at all; but I could envision a more extreme situation, where one person in the household wants everyone else to be available at all times for any random comment the person happens to make. Maybe the only way someone in that situation could get some peace is to listen to headphones, so that people who want to speak to them have to take an extra step to get their attention, and thus will think twice about whether what they have to say is worth it or not. My grandma is kind of a chatterer, for example, and gosh, if I lived with her I think I'd need headphones just to keep my sanity--sometimes just when visiting her for a few hours I wish I had some, but I think that would be rude as I'm there for so short a time.

So to me the general point stands, that adults in the same household don't always need to make themselves available for conversation with each other. And I also agree that to me there seems to be more an obligation to attend to one's spouse, than to one's parent (or in this case, I think the OP is his MIL), unless of course there is a health/safety issue.
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TootsNYC

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #27 on: April 28, 2014, 01:21:59 PM »
Oh, I don't know--if my son-in-law were living w/ me in *my* house (which is what I think the OP said is the situation), I'd expect him to attend to me when he's in the common areas. A little at least.

Because while I agree with this...

Quote
So to me the general point stands, that adults in the same household don't always need to make themselves available for conversation with each other.

..I think the converse is true as well: adults in the same household should not always make themselves unavailable for conversation. And when they are in the public spaces, I think the availability should be the majority of the time, not the minority.

Lynn2000

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #28 on: April 28, 2014, 01:37:31 PM »
Oh, I don't know--if my son-in-law were living w/ me in *my* house (which is what I think the OP said is the situation), I'd expect him to attend to me when he's in the common areas. A little at least.

Because while I agree with this...

Quote
So to me the general point stands, that adults in the same household don't always need to make themselves available for conversation with each other.

..I think the converse is true as well: adults in the same household should not always make themselves unavailable for conversation. And when they are in the public spaces, I think the availability should be the majority of the time, not the minority.

Fair point. I'm just afraid of getting into that discussion about whose house it "really" is and who pays rent to whom and so forth... I know that I, personally, need a certain amount of alone time to recharge, and in a (possibly) small house with several other adults it might be hard for someone to be alone physically as much as they need to, so I can imagine someone approximating that with earbuds in a common area, and thinking they are doing a good job because they're not inflicting their entertainment on others.

But as others have said, a lot of it is the degree as well. At least one person in his household thinks he might be overdoing it, so maybe it's worth mentioning to him on that basis alone, as I'm sure the tolerance level varies from group to group.
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TootsNYC

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Re: wearing earbuds or bluetooth at home
« Reply #29 on: April 28, 2014, 01:42:51 PM »
I think if I were the mom whose married adult kids were living w/ me, I'd want them to have some "alone" time, when they don't have to been "on" or interacting w/ me.

I want that for my own kids. I'd personally start to mind when the earbuds were there during high-traffic times like, oh, setting the table for dinner, stuff like that.

I agree with the "it's a matter of degree."

But if you're living w/ me, I expect you to care about having interactions with me. If you're hiding from me or avoiding me or rejecting me -all- the time, go live somewhere else.