I finally made the decision to buy a pair of good quality headphones with active noise cancellation. I've been considering this for some time now but at last I did the boring obligatory market research and ordered what I thought looked like a good choice. They were expensive as fuck in relation to my meager income but so worth the hefty price.
While I'm not an audiophile I think the sound quality is excellent! There are lots of features many of which thankfully can be turned off in the settings. You can connect them to surveillance capitalism products like Alexa, there is a weird touch screen, they can pause audio when you start talking or take them off but what I value the most is the ability to be able to be connected to two devices at once. I found it annoying with my previous headphones where I had to disconnect them from my computer and then connect them to my phone or vice versa. This is now a problem of the past and I now rarely miss phone calls or text messages. It is very convenient! Sadly enabling this feature is at the expense of being able to use LDAC so I loose some sound quality but given the convenience this brings it's totally worth it. It's a fair deal in my book.
But side-features is not what this post is about.
adaptive noise cancellation
While getting older I've grown more cynical towards "techy solutions" to problems but I'm honestly astonished of the ridiculous amount of life quality these headphones has given me. My everyday life has improved immensely.
For those who know me AFK it's no secret that have a major problem with anxiety. Combine this with noisy annoying fucked up neighbors in a not so optimal neighborhood and add a sprinkle of sound sensitivity to the mix, the end result is not a pretty picture. For years I've felt uncomfortable in my own home, mostly due to sounds. The solution has often been either avoidance or blasting high volume audio into my ears. Neither of which are for obvious reasons particularly desirable.
This problem is now almost gone from my life. Nowdays I feel more free and like I can do whatever I want in my own home. I can read a book, watch some TV-show or sit down and hack some code whenever I want. Importantly I can now much more easily focus and dedicate time to my studies in mathematics. It gives me a sense of normality.
For those unfamiliar with major anxiety disorders one of the most frustrating aspects of it are the self-imposed restrictions it brings with it, it is hard to explain and put into words because you could certainly "just" get up and do whatever you like but there is a inherent mental barrier stopping you, forcing you to gaze inwards and go over thoughts over and over again. You almost feel paralyzed unable to initiate actions locked into your own downward spiraling mind. Unable to do normal everyday tasks. Feeling a little more free to have autonomy in my life means so much to me.
I've should have gotten noise cancellation headphones years ago, it would have saved me so much time and energy.
While I'm not magically cured of my problems this is still such a huge improvement in my life.
On the other hand, maybe this is a form of escapism, trying to avoid the consensus auditory reality but if I've found a tool that truly makes me function better as a human being in almost every respect, should I not then use it? The question is rhetorical. Maybe this would be a more questionable behaviour if I didn't work on more practical permanent long-term solutions to my AFK problems simultaneously. I'm working on it. :)
I worried about how this would impact social interactions with my partner but so far it's been all good. My partner is fortunately enough very understanding and patient with me and the headphones are pretty good at picking up conversations nearby directed at you so this hasn't been a problem at all, so far.
I should also note that the technology is pretty interesting in its own right.