Cabaero: Earphones, please

Nini Cabaero

AMONG the popular gifts last Christmas were mobile phones, tablets and other handheld devices that allow people to watch movies or listen to music.

With these gifts, you may listen to music, watch movies or television shows, play games and, I hope, read books or the news. The first three actions—the listening, watching and playing—are the ones that worry me, especially when these devices are used in public places.

How many times has the sound of someone’s genre of music, a game, television show or a movie been forced on you in a public place? In the jeepney, at the terminal, inside the plane, while waiting at a doctor’s clinic or when having a seated massage.

The sound of what they are playing or viewing is forced on you. They get to enjoy it while I am left with the audio effects. It is irritating. I find it a violation of my “air space” when a seatmate or someone nearby plays up the volume of their device.

Most of these devices come with earphones that let the user limit the listening and not include those in the periphery. Use those earphones.

What to do when they violate your space? I suffer the intrusion, especially when it’s a child playing. Only if it’s a child. I can stare at the person or ask that person to use earphones. No earphones? I offer mine and wish not much ear wax is involved.

Seriously, there should be something to be done to address this violation of “air space.”

A movement could be launched to require makers of such devices to come up with stickers or posters similar to those on cigarette packs warning against the ills of smoking. Those stickers or posters would be about educating people on the need to respect the right of others not to hear what they’re viewing on their phones.

In bold letters, these packages should come with stickers saying use earphones in public, spare the people around you from the sound of your game, tv show or movie. Not using earphones can be dangerous to one’s health because you might encounter an irate person who will not take the noise lightly.

Regulating the playing of sound in public, especially in enclosed places, could save lives by preventing confrontations and keeping one’s sanity intact and blood pressure down.

In school, students should be told about the responsible ways of using mobile devices. Not just limiting what they view or the hours or days they can use the devices but also about the proper ways to use a phone to listen to music, watch movies or play games in public.

There are rules on limiting the use of earphones with medical experts saying that overuse could lead to ear damage or hearing loss. There are standards to safe listening, they said. But there is no rule to require the use of earphones or headphones in public places.

Perhaps the right to not have your “air space” violated should be included in the list of human rights.