Why is it that everywhere we go these days, music (and I use the word loosely) seems to be playing at a deafening level? Malls and supermarkets are the worst (next to children’s birthday parties, but I’m reserving that horror for a full column). Every store, on top of the piped-in mall music, has their version of blaring noise. In some cases, the noise is compounded by video—-the kind with no story, of course.
Naturally, all this action renders sales people useless. When they aren’t yelling at each other, they are mechanically bobbing their heads to the thud-thud-thud of the bass. Forget about catching their attention the normal way. You generally have to join the shouting match just to get them to throw you that very special bored glance—the one that lets you know you are taking them away from their brain-frying activities. Sometimes I wonder if they actually want me to buy something.
I do not like taking my children to shopping malls precisely because of this nervous-system debilitating stimuli, but one cannot live in today’s world without the occasional foray. Very recently, we forayed. Since we hate crowds and I am such a crusader for peace and quiet, we tried to hit the mall as soon as it opened, thinking we could avoid the noise. Wishful thinking. There were rehearsals for a fashion show going on and their music was loud enough to fill up half the mall! No, they didn’t look particularly uncomfortable, but I did notice they all looked like somebody reached in and turned them off.
Then my husband wanted to take my son bowling. I said I would catch up with them. When I did, I was once again assaulted by too much noise. It pounded in my head and coursed through my body, causing involuntary spasms in my insides. I hurried my family along, even as they looked at me like I was the kill-joy alien from hell. This was not healthy. In fact, it was very bad.
On the way home– in blessed quiet, finally– I noticed that the hearing in my left ear was temporarily muted. It was literally as if someone had pressed the mute button and muffled the sounds. I looked at my 4-year-old and was certain that the effects on his entire being were far worse and, in all probability, not readily seen. That evening, sleep didn’t come easily to him and when it did, it was anything but peaceful. He tossed and turned, was whiney and quick to cry. None of us slept well.
Personally, I think I would spend more time in a store – perhaps buy more — if my senses were supported rather than assaulted. I think employees would work better, be more pleasant and alert if they weren’t bombarded by unnecessary stimulus all day long. Hell, I think people would bowl better if they could reach for a slice of silence to help them concentrate.
What is this world coming to that we cannot stand to be silent? This constant hammering, pounding and jogging of our insides leave us in a state of perennial stress and constriction. Over time we get to the point where we can’t even tell when it’s noisy. By then we would have already lost our ability to hear ourselves. No wonder we have become so disengaged from our thoughts and feelings. Many of us walk around not knowing what we really think or feel; what we really want because we unconsciously allow unfiltered stimuli free and unlimited access into our space.
I think just being aware of it makes a big difference. That way, you can make choices. The danger is in leaving yourself wide open and allowing all that unfiltered garbage to seep through. Once you start doing this, you will find that you are actually uncomfortable with all the noise and will probably move to quieter ground. are unconscious of it, it just takes over. Pretty soon all need quiet so we can listen to our thoughts. We need the silence to make sense of our lives, especially these days when technology seems to be taking over too many areas of human communication. We need that hollow space to let ourselves unfold, completely unhampered.