Sometimes I feel bad about wearing headphones almost constantly in public, if I'm not with someone I know. There was a time when I didn't even feel comfortable without headphones in. And it gives me the option of always listening to something new, learning or being amused. That can't be too bad, can it?
This is one of those classic cases of a system hiding it's own downsides. I lived in a foreign country with those earbuds blocking strangers out. But wouldn't I appreciate more of even the strangest disasters that random interactions bring?
I'm not sure what to do with this idea, except to say one thing: using speakerphone is NOT the answer. I bumped into an older person on the phone, hearing both sides of the conversation, and I cannot emphasize how quickly I wanted to get away from that. If the goal here is to invite more happenstance, or just be a good person, that stuff should be put on normal mode. Nobody minds you having just your side of a conversation in a store.
I'm tempted to say this means I should use headphones less and less. Let people bump into me and start conversations. But perhaps I should be more targeted? There are certain places where the conversation is unlikely to be good, and the audiobook is a realistic hedge against a pretty poor chance of something good.
But on the flip side, some of the stone-cold strangest interactions I've had were with people who asked me to pull the earbuds out. Truth be told, those were almost entirely a waste of time – perhaps I should commit to having more casual interactions, if only to let normal people who aren't willing to overcome that kind of awkwardness tee up a conversation.
The sly part of all of this is that, if I want to start a conversation with someone else, I just pull the earbuds out. It's no problem. So outbound stuff doesn't change. Indeed, if you're enough of an extrovert, the earbuds might actually be costless. But alas – I'm not the only interesting person in the world, and my experience indicates that I'd have to be much, much more interesting to start literally every interesting conversation I'd like to have.
Maybe I should have the equivalent of the "Continue" invitation at the end of blog posts in person? Could I just have a sweatshirt with my email on it? Is that reasonable?