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Memories of the 28th Century

It's Too Noisy

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
I am becoming progressively less willing to accept noise, and the level of noise around me has been increasing for decades. To a large degree, the noise snuck up; it kept increasing a little bit at a time, and new things, devices, machines, etc. that made more noise were being devised all the time. Often they were more effective than earlier versions, so the noise was acceptable, but it has gotten so bad that I have to yell at the servers in Starbucks, because the machinery behind the counter makes so much noise that they sometimes canít hear me, if I donít yell.

I sometimes work in libraries, the erstwhile bastions of silence, but they have become tolerant of noise, chatter, loud conversation, machine noises, and so on, and that does not bode well for the future. Because some people have not learned that quiet is expected in some places.

It used to be that children were the great noisemakers, but the age has been increasing. One bright spot in the noise spectrum is that teenaged persons are using earbuds, so their noise is usually kept to themselves; although yesterday for the first time in a while heard a car with a really loud sound system with all of its windows open polluting the area with noise. People themselves arenít major sources of noise in most places; it is more common for machines of various sorts to produce excessive noise.

While there are more machines producing noise, some machines a making less noise. For example, the noise level on streets is about the same as it was years ago, and the engines of cars arenít often sources of noise; although tire noise is no less and sometimes more. Motorcycles are still quite noisy, but there are some that are a little less noisy. One thing that I often recall when I hear noisy vehicles is that it took energy to produce that noise; energy that someone paid for. That is true for all machinery; noise is wasted energy.

I was hoping to find a graph that compared preindustrial noise and present levels, but the best I found was the link about Virgin Atlantic trying to make jet engines quiet. Even if they manage to make each engine quieter, they will be using more engines, so the net effect will be little changed. But on the larger issues, before machines of various sorts started making noise that world was quieter. People and animals donít make much noise by themselves; although there are screams and moose calls, and such, but those are nothing compared to a jet engine, as one example.

People arenít designed for loud noise. Our hearing works very well for mid ranges, but loud noises damage or break the hairs in the cochlea, and those hairs arenít repaired quickly; although they can regrow over time. The hairs break from extreme noise or overuse, but I couldnít find anything that describes that in details. The finer hairs pick up the highest frequencies, and those hairs are most likely to break. As people age they lose the highest frequencies, and there is some loss of the lowest frequencies, but not as much. I can still remember that birdsongs were much more interesting and complicated when I was young, but now there seem to be gaps in the songs where the highest part are, see links below. Hearing loss is not the only negative effect of excess noise; other effects include higher blood pressure and psychological effects, and decreased birth weight. (

I probably should look into this more, but there doesnít seem to be as much material about noise pollution as there is fiction about less important things. I usually am up and out by 5:00 AM, and one of the reasons for that is that I like the quiet. At that time of day there aren't many things going around making noise, and I can hear the garbage trucks more than a mile away, because nothing drowns out the noise. I can also hear the birds singing and chirping; sounds that are drowned out later in the day. As more people get going, there is more noise and the clarity of the noise decreases. I hope that few readers will take to rising early enough to hear the early sounds.

In earlier times I can imagine people listening to animals walking and grunting long before they could be seen. That would have made hunting easier and gathering vegetable foods safer. Now we go to markets where we hear the in store sound systems.
Details of hearing system


  1. Danik 2016's Avatar
    I am sensitive to noise too and I live right near a place where music shows and political meetings are held. The sound is always amplified, so I hear everything as if the meeting was held in the drawing room.
  2. PeterL's Avatar
    This morning I mentioned to the barista at Starbucks that m new blog post had been inspired, in part, by that place. she asked what it was about, then she stepped a few feet away to pour my refill, and I said, "Noise.' she turned back and said, "What was that?"
  3. Pompey Bum's Avatar
    I think the thin edge of the wedge in libraries has been internet access. When school lets out (at least where I live), the teenagers socialize around the machines and are not told to knock it off (except by me). Then they look shocked and hurt and sometimes leave. I get the feeling no one (including parents) has ever told them to be considerate of others. There is a special reading area, and people are silent there, but aside from that space, they mostly just talk. And librarians are rude now, too, but I guess that's another gripe.

    I wake up before the birds and frankly find their morning prattle a little irritating. I know you're not supposed to, but I do. We've had a fox lately and it killed something early the other morning--I think a rabbit. You've never heard such a blood-curdling scream in your life. It put me right off the Lord's Prayer. Heh heh. Nature? Humbug!

    One cure for noise pollution, by the way, is to wear earplugs. They are cheap and comfortable and effective, although they do not stand up to multiple uses. I have to take them out when strangers talk to me, and somehow they always seem a little offended. Perhaps they suspect my misanthropy. Nah, they usually don't seem all that perceptive. But I guess nobody likes to be left alone in the sound soup.
    Updated 08-03-2016 at 11:43 AM by Pompey Bum
  4. PeterL's Avatar
    While computers are one of the reasons for chatter in libraries, I think that talking was becoming more common even before. I have also noticed that some librarians are not polite, but I think that has become part of the training, and they think that they are above interacting with non-librarians, which might be why they don't silence the ill-mannered and inconsiderate people.

    The victims of the local foxes and the foxes themselves remain quiet when a fox takes a meal, so I have never heard such a blood-curdling scream. It would be better than the distant clangs of garbage trucks.

    I insist upon being aware of what is going on around me, so earplugs are out.
  5. Pompey Bum's Avatar
    Come now, only transendental silence will awaken the inner PeterL. :)

    I have to say, as a fellow New Englander, that there is one kind of noise pollution that I find enjoyable, even moving, and that is the distant sound of a train whistle on a cold winter's night. But garbage trucks? Okay, you've got a point.
  6. PeterL's Avatar
    The chirping of birds at first light is as effective as "transcendental silence", and maybe more so. I idn't say that I like the sound of distant garbage trucks, but they sound better in the distance than they sound when one is right beside one.
  7. Pompey Bum's Avatar
    Well, the birds here are really loud, Peter. There are many cardinals so there's not only that rolling chirping but also this weird metallic sliding sound. I love to listen to them in the late afternoon, but I prefer the relative silence of the early morning to their urgent assertions of sexual territory (or whatever's so important that they have to sing about it). My neighbor's dogs start barking around 6:00, and that's a good sound if you're already awake. The birds can say what they like after that. But earlier in the morning I find them a (moderate) nuisance. But for some reason I don't mind the frogs that sing late into the night. Peepers mean it's not winter yet. Maybe that's it.
  8. PeterL's Avatar
    If your nuisance is birds singing, then I think that you should be very happy.
  9. Pompey Bum's Avatar
    No thanks to them. But I am happy in my life and more than blessed.
    Updated 08-03-2016 at 08:33 PM by Pompey Bum