Those tiny white AirPods are ubiquitous in ears today—including at completely inappropriate places like funerals and movie theaters. Here’s how to use yours without looking like a jerk.
When having a conversation with a real person
Think this is common knowledge? Unfortunately, many people think it’s just fine to leave one earbud in or, in the case of wireless AirPods, leave both in, during conversations, says Amy Alkon, a science-based manners expert and author of Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck. Even if you’ve got the sound turned off, the other person doesn’t know that and having them in can make them feel like you don’t care what they’re saying and you aren’t really listening (which is probably true!). So we’re saying it now: Always take out your AirPods when speaking with someone in real life. Do you know the 50 little etiquette rules you should always practice?
Sharing a song with a friend
Love a song? It’s natural to want to share it with your friend who’s nearby but the current trend of passing over a single AirPod to give them a listen is rude and, honestly, kinda gross. There’s the earwax-sharing issue but more importantly, there’s the noise issue. Chances are you’ve got your volume cranked up louder than you think and when your friend sticks the Pod in their ear, they’ll be blasted away. “Over time this can cause permanent damage to the hearing of not just you but your friend as well,” says Luqman Lawal, PhD, director of global health & research for the Starkey Hearing Foundation. If you care about your friend then you should care about their hearing. What do you think of these British etiquette rules experts say Americans should adopt?
At family gatherings
With the noisy chaos of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and your brother who simply can’t discuss sports without yelling, it can be tempting to take a little break at the family reunion by popping in your AirPods and listening to some music. Resist the urge, Lawal says. Not only will it make you look rude—your “taking a break” may appear as indifference or disdain to others—but it can be risky for your hearing too. Being in a noisy environment can cause you to crank up your volume even louder than you normally would, he explains. Instead, if you need a break, step outside for a minute for a breath of fresh air.