With all this talk of global warming, and whether we are destined to become human potato chips or ice cubes, advocacy has waned for a viable solution to another desperate situation: noise pollution. Frankly, I’m concerned.
Unlike what global warming naysayers would have you believe, the modern day scourge of noise pollution is unequivocally traceable to human behavior: flapping one’s gums.
I know what my husband is saying right now: “Wow, that’s ironic.” Actually, he wouldn’t say it aloud; he’d think it. Hence, my love for him.
All kidding aside, it doesn’t take 98% of the world’s scientists to agree on the obvious trajectory that we are on as a society, and how to reverse it. An effective noise pollution abatement plan does not require Ivy League think tanks, or Senate sub-committees tasked with finding a way out of this.
I have devised a two-prong solution to the problem that all people over the age of five are capable of understanding. Here it is:
- Locate your volume control knob and turn that bad boy down.
- Speak infrequently.
Loudmouths I’ve Known Lately
Here’s a sampling of recent encounters I’ve had that in my opinion, contain a level of shared toxicity that’s right up there with second-hand cigarette smoke, or wetting the bed when you have a friend over to spend the night.
- The lady in the dentist office who treated the occupants of the entire 2500 square foot space to every detail of the last five days of her life while she was making her next appointment. If only I had been having a root canal instead of sitting in the sunny waiting room a mere ten feet from where she stood, I could have enjoyed the buffer of a strong narcotic. And yet, I’m the one that gets called a bitch when I politely interrupt her and ask if she can find her inside voice.
- The guy in the grocery store checkout line who pretended to be speaking to the checker, but intentionally enlightened all within earshot to a full accounting of what went wrong (or was it right…it’s hard to tell) on his last trip to Burning Man. You, my friend, have a hostage fetish layered on top of narcissistic personality disorder. Nobody wants to hear about your bad acid trip or communal bath with a Swiss hockey team under the light of a harvest moon.
In part, it’s a spiritual issue. Loud people have no sense of connection to the rest of humanity; they lack the understanding of what it’s like to simply be in another person’s shoes, or ear canals, and that it is unacceptable to commandeer a public space with a voice that could emcee a destruction derby sans microphone. These people, who reach maximum decibel output in confined public places, lack consideration for what other people might want to be experiencing in a shared space. Why? Here’s my theory: Loud people are afraid that if they don’t hear the sound of their own voice at all times, they will disappear. Poof. It’s obviously some sort of Freudian identity complex. Or it’s Jungian. Or Kaptain Kangarooian; I’m not sure. But it’s definitely one of those guys.
I’ll even go so far as to say this: The space we share that is boundaried by the range of our hearing ought to be part of a collective “whisper zone,” meaning, if someone is near enough to hear you, it’s only fair that you 1) monitor the level of your own voice; and 2) shut the hell up.
My point is this: Noise pollution is real, and it’s happening now. In terms of urgency, it’s on par with world hunger and defective corks that break off mid-screw. The question is, what are we, as a society, prepared to do about it?
5 Things You Can Do Now to Alleviate Noise Pollution
- Stop talking.
- Learn sign language.
- Refrain from using your mouth except to eat, and some other stuff.
- Give your favorite loudmouth a muzzle for his or her next birthday. When they say, “Really?” smile sweetly and say, “Yes, really.”
- Ask for feedback about your own speaking habits. Pick someone you know fairly well; don’t pick your best friend, who doesn’t think you need rehab; pick someone who you suspect may not like you a whole lot. For some of you, this could be a neighbor, a spouse, or your grandmother.
I’m not saying we don’t have other problems that need fixing in our society, like a rapidly changing climate, or affordable, painless hair removal. I’m just saying, until those obviously more important issues get resolved, we have a responsibility to work on ourselves.