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R.I.P. Headphone Users is a comment that is often used on YouTube to warn the viewers that the video contains excessively loud audio track. This sarcastic remark metaphorically suggests that viewers who watched the video while wearing headphones may have perished due to the sudden shock caused by the loudness of the audio.
While the original iteration of the meme remains unidentified, some of the earliest instances began appearing at the top of the comments sections after YouTube unveiled its comment rating system in early 2010. Since the comment dually served as a viewer’s feedback for the uploader and a warning for the viewers, “RIP Headphone Users” and its variations were frequently placed above the rest of user comments.
Outside of its usage in YouTube video pages, the phrase “RIP Headphone Users” also began appearing as the title of videos or link submissions containing loud audio tracks in consideration of the viewers. The Urban Dictionary definition for “RIP Headphone Users” was submitted by user Sega31098 on October 23rd, 2011.
When people upload videos that are unnecessarily and surprisingly loud, even at normal volume, giving the impression that the loudness killed people who use headphones due to their proximity to the ears.
On October 16th, 2011, a thread titled “R.I.P Headphone Users” was posted on the gaming discussion forum GameKiller, which linked to two YouTube videos of Combat Arms gameplay footage containing loud audio tracks. Later that same month on October 30th, a thread titled “Satan X R.I.P. headphone users” was posted on Steam Users’ Forum, referring to the loud audio issue experienced upon reaching the boss of Sheol in the game The Binding of Issac.
On November 3rd, 2011, Memebase featured a rage comic about a YouTube viewer who realizes that the video features a loud audio track during the buffer (shown below, left). On January 22nd, 2012, Redditor deerberry submitted a rage comic illustrating the literal interpretation of the “RIP Headphone Users” comments on YouTube (shown below, right).
On January 28th, 2012, YouTuber RIPHeadphoneUsers started a playlist to showcase several videos featuring extremely loud audio tracks or voiceovers, also known as ear rape.