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Headphones at The Gym

Q: What is an unintended (negative) consequence of increased productivity? 
A: Loss of community and sharing ideas in person

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the greatest bodybuilders of his time, and arguably one of the best of all-time. He became an icon during a point in history when gyms were becoming increasingly popular, and body-building as a sport was taking off. It was also a time when gyms were very communal.

Personal and portable music players weren’t popular yet, and noise-cancelling headphones were unheard of. Instead of listening to a podcast during your workout, people would naturally strike up conversations with others because they were both at the gym there was automatically a natural connection.

Today, if you walk into any gym in America, you see more headphones than people. Each person locked into their own soundtrack–carefully curating their mood to increase performance; or listening to a podcast or audiobook to multitask and increase productivity.

Are we better off because our technology allows us to lift more, multi-task, and fire off a few emails between sets? Probably.

Has it come at a cost? Yes.

Because our phones allows us to connect to anyone, we neglect the people next to us because they aren’t in our contact list.

To quote from David Perell:

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.

Actionable Question: Am I okay with the tradeoffs when I choose individual productivity at the expense of community?