Small, snug, and unyoked from laptop or phone, AirPods are easy to wear for hours at a time, without a second thought. This, BuzzFeed News recently declared, is “Making Things Awkward for Everyone Else.” All-day AirPod wear can make social interactions clumsy and uncomfortable: Has the AirPod wearer hung up the call or turned off their music? The person on the other end of the interaction doesn’t know. Particularly in situations that require some sustained face-to-face communication—ordering coffee or crossing paths with a co-worker—wearing AirPods and ignoring others, intentionally or not, can be a jerk move, BuzzFeed News concludes.
But something’s missing in the lamentation over the Apple buds and their erosion of social norms. There’s actually a very good reason for wearing AirPods all the time, even at the risk of offending someone: to safely ignore street harassers.
The currency of street harassers is attention—they want it, and they act as if they’re entitled to it. Leaving your AirPods in while ordering at Starbucks is rude, because the barista at the counter is owed some common courtesy. Wearing them on your commute to pretend you didn’t hear that nasty comment is not, because the harasser isn’t owed anything at all.