The Earphone Syndrome in India

Of all the syndromes affecting our young ones, the earphone syndrome seems to be the most ubiquitous one! It is common to see young boys and girls standing by the road-side, swinging and swaying, lost in a world of music, insulated from the world in which they live, and often oblivious to the perils of not having the advantage of hearing a truck rushing towards you from the wrong side! A passage appearing in one of the question papers of the students I teach was exactly about the perils of earphone addiction!

Experts claim that listening to music continuously on earphones might lead to permanent damage of the ear drums because of the continuous pounding of drums and sounds that cross the 90 db. safe limit! Viewed as specimens of the new age, these swinging and swaying boys and girls seem to be living in a virtual world of music cut off from the world of reality, and it seems as they they might soon become emotionally and mentally dissociated from what is going on around them. A disturbing trend, no doubt, but then it seems as though the virtual world of music heard through their earphones has more attraction than the real world around them, perhaps they feel that listening to the latest pop numbers would be more comforting than listening to the blare of horns and the din of a world in a mad frenzy!

The other day, having stopped at a traffic junction, my eyes were drawn towards a man, probably a college student swaying and swinging, and mouthing words! Looking closely, I noticed that he had earphones on, and was in a virtual world of music swinging in tune with whatever he was listening to, and furthermore he was gesticulating with his hands, probably beating at drums in a virtual world! Aside from the fact that the whole thing looked ridiculous, I often wonder if this might not be a disturbing trend today! Newspapers keep writing stories about tragedies taking place because of young people listening to music on earphones, the most common of these are stories about railway accidents! There was this story about three or four boys walking on a railway track, who were also listening to music on their mobiles through earphones, and how one of them was not able to get off the track on which a train was travelling, because he couldn’t hear it coming! It is not just about listening to music through earphones, but rather the use of earphones to listen to the caller that is risky. I recall being surprised on many occasions looking at pedestrians talking loudly into their collar mikes. Not seeing the mobile phone hidden in their pockets would make it appear as though these people were talking to themselves, often shouting at themselves, weird, no doubt!

I guess, people who are addicted to the earphone are true followers of the famous line, ‘If music be the food of love then play on, play on!’ The dangers and health hazards besides the risk of being hurt because of not being alert, resulting from the constant bombardment of the eardrums by noise, and the possible skin reaction resulting from the constant contact of the silicone rubber of the earphones far outweigh the benefits of using a pair of earphones! I guess if I want to listen to music on the go, then I’d rather use those bulky headphones which allow one to listen to the ambient sound than the noise cancellation kind of earphones that fit snuggly! Well, I guess like all the other fads, this fad might soon pass away, making the world a safer place! I don’t believe that we are so crazy about music that we can’t live without our earphones all the time! Our safety and alertness to our surroundings are more important than a pair of earphones. Many people unfortunately feel it is cool to listen to music through earphones, while many feel as if they exude confidence to have a pair of earphones with loud music playing on them, loud enough for others to hear!

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