Can anybody tell me why we are so afraid of silence nowadays?
Forget the sound of a pin dropping. I’m not sure I could hear a cannon going off over the “background music” that’s now the standard at my local McDonald’s restaurant.
Before you say anything, I’ll address the elephant in the room: yes, I’m but a stone’s throw from the half-century mark of my life. Ahem. I know that many people complain about loud music as they get older. It seems as the years pass by, the less tolerance I have for music I can’t comfortably talk over. So yes, I do know that I’ve changed.
I used to love listening to bands at the bar; stood right beside the speakers without a thought for my poor ears. I toted my Walkman all over my town, cranking Wham! and Billy Idol as loud as I could without my parents giving me the stinkeye. Every time my brother was out, I snuck into his room to blast Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo on his stereo (sorry, bro), all the better to get the full concert effect. Music was always part of my life and for the most part I felt like the louder, the better.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I started to complain about the volume of music. Suddenly it seemed that the music at socials or clubs was too loud to have a proper conversation. Never mind the tinnitus that started to make itself known with a vengeance, hissing away every time I found myself in a quiet room. I went from enjoying loud songs to turning them down on a regular basis.
It’s not just restaurants and retail stores that are problematic. Movie theatres take the problem to a dangerous level. The volume there reaches painfully loud levels, especially when it comes to ads and movie trailers.
Noise pollution isn’t just annoying
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