Are you trying to drown out the whiny, often screaming voices of your fellow New Yorkers by putting your headphones on and zoning out? Well, NYC Department of Health wants you to stop—for your own "good," the way not drinking more than 16 ounces of soda will steer you from the dark side.

The Health Department has launched a new ad campaign and says "listening to headphones at high volumes can cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and irreversible hearing loss." For instance: "Loud sounds, including media played at high volume, can injure the delicate hair-like cells of the inner ear that convert sound waves into the sounds we hear. The injured cells cannot be repaired, and once enough of them are damaged, hearing problems can occur."

Some tips from the Health Department:
- Reduce the volume, limit listening time, and take regular breaks;
- Never listen at maximum volume and do not turn the volume up to drown out external noise;
- Use volume limiting features of personal listening devices; and
- Know the early signs of hearing loss and ask a doctor for a hearing test if you have trouble hearing conversation, need to turn up the volumes on TV, radio or personal music players or experience ringing in the ear.

Apparently one in four adults ages 18 to 44 who use headphones heavily say they have hearing problems. Here's the Health Department's study (PDF). Seriously—take off the headphones so you can listen to Dot Matrix: