In defense of earphone-phobes

By Wei Jia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/14 18:18:39

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


Earphone phobia has many people suffering in silence. Woefully insufficient attention has been paid to this condition, which has led to misunderstandings that paint a negative picture of people watching videos in public spaces without earphones. It's time to put that right.

Many people jump to the conclusion that watching videos at a high volume in public spaces such as in a train broadcasts the viewer's disregard of other people's need for an undisturbed trip and their right to enjoy their own video in as much peace as the transport can offer. To call those people ignorant would be unfair because, as I have just mentioned, the condition has not yet gotten the public awareness it fully deserves.

Earphone phobia smashes a person's common sense to smithereens in ways not much different from other better-documented phobias. By freezing a person with a sudden, irrational and overpowering fear, earphone phobia turns innocuous-looking earphones into a life-threatening risk. As far as earphone-phobes are concerned, the thought of wearing earphones causes as much dread.

Even if they muster up enough mental strength to fight the fear, their sweaty hands reach into the pockets and involuntarily withdraw as soon as they touch their item. A snake bite feels less hurtful.

Nobody would blame them if they surrender to their fates and give up watching their favorite TV series. But that kind of weakness is apparently not a part of their makeup. Instead, in a flourish of defiance, they turn up the volume, even if what they are watching is subtitled, and let their phobia hear the message loud and clear - they will not be denied.

Just like an amputee uses a prosthetic leg to train to be a runner, earphone-phobes challenge fate with the speakers on their phones. In light of this knowledge, as much as I hate sitting next to an earphone-phobe, my better nature is ashamed of my aversion. If I were in their situation, would I ever be so brave as to play the sound on the video so loud and not let my phobia have its way? I highly doubt it.

If only people could understand the indomitable spirit of someone watching videos earphone-free in a packed train car, they would not view them with burning disgust, but unreserved sympathy, even admiration for their defiance.

It's only fitting that the speakers on earphone-phobes' mobile phones should blast away as if trying to attract attention because their struggle has always been obscure. What a pity most people have no idea what goes on behind the deceptively happy smiles on earphone-phobes' faces when they are watching their favorite shows. 

A test of my decency has presented itself in the form of earphone phobia. As grating as the sound from their mobile phone may be, the person watching the video is at the mercy of a little-known disease and is positive enough to wage an open war against it. To prove I am not a narrow-minded bigot, I must accept all the explosions, music and laughter invading my peace because beneath all the noise, there is a fighter in need of help.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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