Drew Austin writes at Real Life magazine on the new Airpods. Didn’t quite know how they actually worked and make it possible to keep them on all the time. Definitely seeing increasing use everywhere I go, and he makes some great points on how this technology is shaping our social interactions:
AirPods foster a different approach to detachment: Rather than mute the surrounding world altogether, they visually signal the wearer’s choice to perpetually relegate the immediate environment to the background. The white earbuds create what Kantrowitz calls the AirPod Barrier, a soft but recognizable obstacle to interpersonal interaction not unlike that of phone usage. While staring at a phone suggests that attitude indirectly, AirPods formalize it, expressing potential distractedness in a more sustained and effortless manner. You don’t have to look down at a screen to convey that your mind might be elsewhere — that you are dividing your attention between your physical surroundings and other kinds of interactions, hearing other voices. AirPods efficiently communicate your refusal to pretend to be “fully present.” AirPods, then, express a more complete embrace of our simultaneous existence in physical and digital space, taking for granted that we’re frequently splitting our mental energy between the two.