Thursday, June 26, 2008

Noisy Public Spaces

When I was a kid, Sony introduced the Walkman. Innovative for their day, these portable tape decks and AM/FM radios gave rise to the Discman, and eventually the IPod.

It wasn’t uncommon to see people bobbing and swaying to the beat of tunes, no one else could hear. Thanks to headsets, we could all enjoy our own tastes in music, without annoying or alienating others.

Maybe I missed something, but times have changed for the worse. People still dance to their own tunes, but for some bizarre reason, they seem to relish in forcing others to listen to their noise – which is what it is if it isn’t something I wanted to hear.

I see people on the subway, on buses, even walking down the street with their phones, their IPods, and other portable music devices, sans headset. Instead of keeping personal music players personal, they blast their tunes through the squawky speaker.

Sometimes, I give them a hairy eye-ball look, to show my distaste for their noise – and they just stare back. Some even turn up the volume!

When I was a kid, I remember once someone brought a ghetto-blaster on the bus, and cranked it way up. The bus driver stopped the bus, and refused to continue until the person turned off their boom box.

These days, people are afraid to take action, because of all the violence in today’s society. That polite question asking someone to turn down their music could get you shot, stabbed, or worse – dead.

Sad thing too, because we all share these public spaces, so how we treat each other really is a reflection of how our society truly is.

When people blast their tunes, and appear to “get off” on offending others around them – what does that say about our society?

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