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Why is everybody in earphones?

Earphones have contributed to the tremendous change of the Nairobian culture.

Whereas a while back only a few residents would be spotted wearing them, today they are a common feature.  It does not matter the age or occupation, many wear them and for different reasons.

Brian Msafiri, a student at Nairobi Aviation College said they have proved to be a great tool for escape, retreat into his world.

In disarray

“When I have my earphones on, the outside world ceases to exist and I just flow with my music. I prefer my own company to be honest,” explained Msafiri.

For him, earphones not only offer a plug-in to 24-hour entertainment but also audio books that have made learning that much easier.

According to Mel Wanjiru, a part-time university student, her life would be in disarray without them. She never leaves her earphones behind.

Every morning, they have helped ease the stress that comes with being stuck in the infamous Jogoo Road traffic jam on her way to work from Doonholm.

“I’d rather be tuned in to my choice of music than sit there bored stiff, or listening to morning conversations between strangers. Thye also help in warding off over friendly people,” said Wanjiru.

According to her, she would rather have loud music playing in between her ears, or pretend to have than take the time to know the person seated next to her in a public service vehicle.

“I just don’t feel the need to know them and besides, we’re only stuck with each other for ane hour or so. What would be the need?” she posed.

However, along with their convenience, earphones have also been blamed for contributing some of the accidents in the city.

A petrol station attendant at the busy Caltex Petrol Station in Doonholm, said he had witnessed pedestrians on earphones get hit by drivers  because they do not monitor car movements.

“When someone is on earphones, they do not hear the car coming from behind. Sometimes, it’s too late and a minor incident occurs,” said the attendant who did not want to be named.

People plugged in to earphones are also susceptible to pick pockets and muggers.

A public transport operator was quick to explain that sometimes the easiest way to prevent being pick pocketed was to be aware of your surroundings.

Involuntary vibrations

“If you listen to your surroundings, then you can hear unfamiliar sounds that can alert you to certain situations such as your bag being opened. But if you have music on, whom do you expect to take care of your belongings?” asked Timmothy Wafula, a matatu conductor.

Mrs Ursula Akinyi, a doctor at   Kenyatta National Hospital says that the prolonged use of earphones, especially at loud volumes results in involuntary vibrations of the eardrum at normal sound decibels.

“In the long run, the eardrums may be permanently damaged leading to deafness and so it is upon you to take care of yourself,” she said.