Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Said Shut Up - Part 2

I grew up in a large family and my social skills suck. A lot people think that growing up with lots of siblings makes you a better adjusted, sociable person. Far from being outgoing and sociable, I'm very much a loner and very snarky. I don't like being around other people for very long.....unless I'm paid to be. I can be sociable when forced, and I am polite enough to get invited back to things, but it's not my true nature. I can only do it for so long, and then I want to get back to my books, my CDs, the Internet, my MP3 or whatever amuses me currently. I guess my point is that wherever you fall on the aloneness-togetherness scale has more to do with the personality you're born with and very little do with whether or not you have siblings.

It's not just the presence of people, but all the goddam noise they make when they are around. My MP3 player gives me some relief. If I'm standing in line and someone starts complaining about how slow the line is, I slap those babies on and disappear into my own world. About 10 years ago I noticed this tendency for people to have to have some kind of freakin' noise going on all the time. Too often I get stuck in a situation where I am forced to endure what some people feel is their right to enjoy music at ear-splitting levels and just assume that I like their music as much as they do. For years I lived in apartments, and too often the neighbor's stereo would vibrate the pictures off the walls. I can't tell you how many times people have threatened to kill me because I asked them to turn their music down. I asked politely - I promise. Is there some connection between listening to loud music and being a homicidal maniac? I'm beginning to think there is.

Apparently I'm not alone. I found this article in Wired magazine where someone says that Hell is Other People's Music and I feel as though someone has heard my distress call. For years I have been complaining about the rise of personal noise that seems to get worse all the time. I have said for years that I would like to find the person who invented the subwoofer and subject him to a few hours of waterboarding.

Part of the problem is I think I have ADD. Back when I was a kid ADD wasn't invented yet. We were just "bad kids" and were made to sit down and our homework. I'm not just being flip - I really do think I have trouble concentrating. I've learned to adapt to it by sitting in the front row in class so I'm not as distracted. I have also adapted by keeping my environment quiet.

What is it with everyone else that there has to be some kind of noise going on all the time? Are your thoughts so distrubing that you have to drown them out?

And what happened to the rule about being quiet in the library? The other day I went to the library to study - because I've been invaded by nattering in-laws - and the other patrons talked to each other, and talked....and talked......and talked, as if they were hanging out at a party. Meaningful looks didn't work. Dirty looks worked no better. I finally went over to them and said "I'm sorry but could you keep it down I'm trying to study." They rolled their eyes, looked at each other and said "God! What's HER problem?" I settled back down to study when another disturbance erupted - this time it was the LIBRARY STAFF carrying on and laughing behind the desk. What the hell?

Just how bad is this phenomenon going to get? Maybe I'm the problem but I just can't get used to having constant noise going on all the time. Studies have shown that the effects of too much noise is detrimental to health - but nobody cares. They want what they want right now and don't care how their behavior affects others. I guess this is the result of a society that values youth - eternal adolescence; people seeing the world from their own perspective and having no clue about what other people might think.

Thankfully I only have less than six months of nursing school left and won't have to concentrate so fiercely. That will help. Meanwhile I hope people read the article and it introduces them to the idea that not everyone likes the same music you do. Maybe you should turn it down a little, or better yet, turn it off altogther and find out what you really think. You might be surprised.

In the words of the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, Hell is other people.

No comments: