Headphones at the Gym

During Arnold Schwarzenegger’s peak workout years, gyms were very communal places.

Nobody wore headphones and people talked in between sets. Today, things have changed. Everybody is plugged into their own virtual reality world where they craft their desired mood by controlling their music. The music of the day can reflect your mood and intensity, which definitely gives you a productivity boost.

But headphones come at the expense of human-to-human connection. Lifting weights has become a solo endeavor instead of a communal one. Instead of talking between sets, people text. A stigma is now associated with talking to others too.

Headphones at the gym are a good metaphor for modern individualism. We’ve optimized for individual productivity at the expense of community and social interaction. The tradeoffs might be worth it, but we should make them consciously. - David Perell

This piece got me thinking. I see going to the gym and working out as an individual activity. I’m not one for small talk, and so I don’t go out of my way to talk to other people in the gym. But when people do talk to me at the gym I don’t mind it. Maybe when I return to the gym next week, I’ll be more open to chatting with others.

August 7, 2021

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