We have all felt the sensation of being overwhelmed by our current surroundings. The sensation of wanting to run and hide from being overloaded by the constant stimuli from today’s modern environment. Many people have the response of going inward and essentially ‘turning off’ to their outer world. Simmel referred to this as developing a blase attitude. It is an attitude of no concern, lack of interest and just feeling grey in an over stimulated world.
One common response people have is to create ways to separate themselves from the rest of society. Luckily, technology has made this much easier through the development of phones and earbuds. We are all guilty of roaming the streets of our metropolis staring at our phones, while listening to music- really anything to avoid interacting with everything happening around us. Here is Simmel’s blase attitude. However, there could be deadly consequences to this escape. A recent study showed that pedestrian deaths have increased significantly in large part to people wearing headphones rather than being aware of their surroundings. The number of deaths of people wearing headphones has tripled in the past seven years, according the the Journal of Injury Prevention. A study examined 116 accidents involving pedestrians wearing headphones. Out of 116 cases only 37 people were not wearing headphones and 81 of the cases resulted in death. Between 2010 and 2011, the rate of deaths of people wearing headphones increased by 47%.
Unfortunately the trend of texting or listening to music only continues while people are driving. A study by Pew found that 75% of adults are most likely on their phone while driving. 1 in 6 adults were likely to walk into someone or something while walking, because the person was so engrossed in texting or listening to music. Again, the key hear is people are completely absent from their surroundings, which is a crucial element in these statistics.
We all need to escape, to turn of the cacophony in this none stop world. But like all things there is a time and a place. Simmel’s conception of the blase attitude grasps the feelings of so many people and why there is such an increase in escaping especially through cell phones and earbuds. However, too much separation from our surroundings can and does have consequences. In some cases it maybe more important to listen to the beats of the streets rather than the your music.