RE: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/headphones-everywhere

CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0 by Peter Molnar () at
https://petermolnar.net/re-headphones-everywhere/

The reason for this trends is significantly easier to answer than you think, Amanda: noise.

That 35 years from 1981 introduced noise everywhere: the streets are crowded are noisy; the cubicles are gone, so our open-space trendy workplaces are noisy; malls and shopping centres play different noise in each and every shop.

Listening to your choice of noise at least suppressed the crushing reality of harsh sounds.