Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Noise

I recently wrote this in my occasional newsletter to Organic-Ally customers:

“I write this as my son is being taken to the cinema by another parent at school. Since he first went to the cinema as a three-year-old (as a birthday treat for a five-year-old friend) son has refused to return to the cinema because he finds the sound simply too loud.

He only agreed to go today because we sent him off with some cotton wool to stuff into his ears. I wonder if you, too, think that cinemas have become too loud for the good of young children (and even adults) these days.

I once researched 'noise tolerance and social classes' and learned that extended exposure to loud noise can lead to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). An audiologist I met in Australia said she would NEVER use a 'personal stereo' type of gadget.

Part of me also thinks that noise and violence go together. Excessive noise raises certain chemicals in our body which in turn raise our blood pressure, apparently. Tell me what you think.”

Some customers wrote back and here's a selection of their views (used with their permission):

I definitely think that cinemas are too loud. I can't go any more - I know I have a problem with noise because I have Lyme disease, but it is a not just people like me and your son who have problems I'm sure.

With best wishes

T. R.

I quite agree about cinema sound being too loud. I believe that if you are 'subjected' to sound loud enough to leave a ringing in your ears then damage which is irreversible has been done. This plays some part in the deterioration of hearing that seems to be accepted as we grow older.

The last cinema trip was particularly annoying as the volume was too loud for the speakers resulting in distortion and poor quality sound. It would have been a much better experience had the volume been a couple of notches lower but fashion seems to dictate increasing volumes.

Non mainstream venues may well be a better option for children (and adults). The Galeri in Caernarfon near my home has a special screening for parents and chidren on occasional afternoons. Another local theatre plays some mainstream and some obscure films with sound at a sensible level.

Maybe there is somewhere like that near you. I have always been grateful that my parents insisted on me keeping my personal stereo volume to a level where only I could hear it. I really appreciate having got to 30 with pretty good hearing and the ability to enjoy sounds at a sensible level!

Kind regards,

I.W.

How wonderful to find someone else who finds the noise of the modern world just a bit too much. I love silence, or rather, quietness because silence is very rare. I work as a gardener as I often need to stop to get my breath after hauling logs, lopping branches or whatever (and to blow my nose on an Organic-Ally hankie! :) ).

I listen. I hear birds, wind, the sea (200 metres away), our hens, and my own breathing. I love it – the sounds of natural life, not the frenetic, over-loud, mind-numbing stuff that most people seem to need to get them through the day.

I love music. I play the harp and I enjoy listening to certain kinds of music sometimes. What I don't understand is the apparent need for constant electronic/machine noise that many people have. What is it? Fear of reality?

Lovely to hear from you.

Kind regards,

H. A-R

Thanks for your latest e-mail newsletter. I just wanted to get back to you and say yes - cinemas are very loud these days! I used to go to the cinema a lot more than I do now, but on the last few occasions I've been, I've almost jumped out of my seat when the adverts came on. Throughout the first few minutes of any showing, I'm almost wincing at the sound levels, but you slowly get used to it.

You're absolutely right though - I do think a noisy world is a more aggressive world. A bit more peace would do us all some good.

Best wishes,

M.J.

Typically son would wait till a movie is out on DVD or is aired on TV before he watches the movie. He's very patient that way. Still he is able to tell us much about movies we have not seen just from listening to what his friends at school tell him.

Another problem I have is with ‘telephone noise’: noise from people shouting into their phones. Here’s a letter in The Times yesterday which made me chuckle:

I’m on the bus

I feel like starting to campaign for a "Turn Off Your Mobile Phone Today" Day.



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1 comment:

Laura Brown said...

I agree wholeheartedly about noise in modern society. At the moment my husband and I are suffering terribly with noisy neighbours (who have now been given notice by their landlord, thank heaven). I don't think people appreciate just how much of a physical and psychological toll constant noise can take on a person. (Certainly our local council don't, given how few resources they devote to noise control.)

I'm also a bit sad that there are few places left where you can hear the sounds of nature without some sort of man-made background noise. Much as I love music, I sometimes wish the stereo had never been invented!