Finding Quiet Places – Starting a Sound Insurrection!

By Michael Barker

I’m wondering whether I’m alone?

It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m walking down a public street, parked in my car or resting on my bicycle at a set of red lights, in a coffee shop or restaurant, in a bank or retail outlet, or even in a hairdresser’s, there’s noise. Some claim it’s music.

But why do we need it and why do we need it constantly and why do we need it so loud?

There seems to be a belief that we, the modern person, are lost or diminished, less than fulfilled, aren’t having our expectations fulfilled if we aren’t constantly surrounded by noise/music!

What’s it all about? Presumably some marketing guru or psychologist has determined that a particular set of noises attract us to a particular location, business, setting; make us want to go there or stay there; be happy when we’re there; tell us we’re having or about to have a good time.

Although I’m also reliably informed that some coffee places like to crank up the noise/music so the punters don’t become too comfortable in their otherwise rent-free mobile offices!

Well, I object! I don’t need the endless noise. Perhaps if a place were to advertise as a music and such-and-such place, one could choose to visit and do whatever business one went there for while listening to the music. There’d be a real choice. But most times I don’t. And the music selection seems designed for the very young Shaun Mendez – oops, Shawn Mendes – fan. Not for me. Never Mahler!

Often times, especially in busy cafes and restaurants, the music competes with, and adds to, the even louder, and usually escalating, conversations of the patrons to the point where you can hardly hear yourself think, let alone hear your companions talking. (And the hearing aid is of little help!)

And, on top of all this, there seems to be very little noise-dulling architectural or interior design features in the really noisy places. It truly seems to be the case that business operators have been led to believe that – I’m looking for good rhyming here – Loud & Proud, or Beat on the Street, is, like Greed was in the 80s, Good. Well, it’s not!

Now I accept there’s probably a bit of intolerant older guy with failing faculties at work here, but am I all that alone?

Please tell me I’m not!

One solution that crosses my mind – and that of some activist friends I know – is to become Sound Vigilantes! Carry your own sound meters on your smart phones and measure the noise. And share the results!

If the young can start an Extinction Rebellion, then perhaps the young-at-heart can start a Sound Insurrection!