Earphones. I am willing to bet that, in ten years time, they`ll become as reviled as transfats, sunbeds and cigarettes.
I have a pair, of course. In fact, I spent quite a good deal on my early running days discovering the type that best suited my running style. The ordinary sort were a curse to keep in my ears. The ridiculously expensive set (C`mon, twenty euro for a few bits of plastic?) were even worse. Wouldn`t you know it, but the cheap as chips sort, from my cheap as chips local sports`shop, fitted the bill.
I`ve been running around, steadily deafening myself, ever since.
The thing I love about my earphones is, of course, that deafening effect. I can`t hear my very laboured breathing. I can`t hear the slap, slap of my half-dead feet. Best of all, I can`t hear Whiney Me bitching about how hard the run is, how lousy I am and questioning why I am running in the first place.
With my earphones, I am lost in a cloud of documentaries, audio books and motivational podcasts.
But there`s a downside.
And I worry about this every time I have to shout at my teenagers.
They are all earphone wearers, albeit to varying degrees. One wears them while surfing the internet, another when following video clips on his laptop, but the third has them so permanently embedded, I fear his inner ears have grown in around them.
And dinnertime usually reveals who has their earphones on.
The Chook House isn`t enormous. But you would swear, at dinner time, we live in four different wings, complete with a labyrinth of corridors and thick stone walls. There I am, standing at the kitchen door, shrieking to the all that dinner`s on the table. But still, I`ll always have to hunt down at least one teen, whip his or her earphones out and yell “Dinner!” at point blank range.
A lot of races now say “Earphone use not allowed” or words to that effect. It`s easy to see why.
Thing is, with earphones on, we`re all oblivious. I`m very sure I wouldn`t hear a steward shouting at me if I was lost in my RTE doconone experience. And an ambulance would have to run me down to get me out of the way.
Indeed, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that this is exactly the case in a lot of races. Earphones are a danger to the user and to his fellow runners.
But it`s the longterm consequences that bother me too. Years of inner ear buzzing must take a toll on one`s hearing. I am almost tempted, in the interests of research, to google for some of the studies, but honestly, I think it stands to reason anyway.
I just wonder how long it will take before all races have an earphone ban. I suspect just a couple of years down the line.
Today`s crop of teens are the first generation permanently embedded earphone users. I predict they`ll have to exchange their earbuds for the latest in digital earphone technology in twenty years time.
Oh, I`ve warned my three. I`ve gone through the whole routine of having them lower the volume in what ever piece of sound equipment their attached to. And warning them not to have the earphones on for more than an hour a day.
But my pleas are literally falling on deaf ears.
All I can hope for now is that, in twenty years time, I`ll be stone deaf myself.
That way, I won`t have to hear them whining about the damage already done. And anyway, they`ll be too deaf to hear me say the dreaded words,
” I told you so”
Earphone pic from karrimor.com