I am someone who abhors anything loud, as my family would corroborate. I don’t like anything noisy. Even the parties I go to must not have ear-shattering music. I like to have my eardrums intact, thank you very much. But, have you noticed how noise, in general, has increase a lot in our public spaces in the past 2-3 decades and also the guilt-free tendency to subject others to it?
I can think of two reasons behind this phenomenon—the penetration of mobile phones and cheap internet plans. When I was growing up in the dinosaur ages, we had no mobile phones. Yes, we survived on those PCO boxes at street corners. Every STD call (call between 2 cities) was charged more than local calls. While talking, we were forced to be succinct as we watched that 180 second clock ticking down. If you wanted to be chattier, you wrote letters. 🙂
Then came PCs and internet. Emails in the beginning were mostly used for official purposes, and we used our land lines for chatting. Today, every person has a mobile phone and zero etiquette to accompany it.
So, people find it perfectly fine to take personal phone calls in public spaces. Then they carry on loud conversations sometimes extending to even hour length, unnecessarily subject others to useless noise. At least step out of the room, or call back later when you have more privacy. But no, from the well-heeled to the hoi polloi, no one cares for the comfort of others.
I have two househelps and the common factor between the two is that they talk non-stop from the moment they enter the house. It’s so annoying. When I tried to tell one of them, she said she had a number of relatives and friends to talk to everyday. Who are these people and how do they have so much time to talk every day? As a result, there is no peace in the house when they work, constantly chattering in a loud voice.
If you have the misfortune of hailing an Ola or an Uber, 8 out of 10 times the driver will be constantly talking for the entire duration of the journey caring two hoots about your peace of mind. At the airport, in the mall, at the theatre, on the road, at the grocery store—people talk noisily and incessantly. And they have taken up all our public spaces.
If not talking, they are slouching over their phones or glued to their screen watching videos—Youtube, TikTok, WhatsApp. Some of them think it is okay to not use headphones even when you give them black looks. How on earth do you think that it is okay to do your noisy browsing without headphones?
We can’t sit idle for one minute anymore. We can’t wait for anything without doing something, on our phone. If someone did a study of how much time people waste idly on social media while transiting or waiting or just like it, all the myths about not having enough time in the day will be busted.
Day before yesterday, I went to my neighbourhood bank to get a DD, something that is hardly needed these days. The lady who entertained me took about 30 minutes for my DD to be ready. In the meantime, I did some people watching. It is interesting to do that. It gives me so much food for thought and blog. It also dismayed me how much people are slaves to their mobile phones.
Whatever happened to good old books or its digital avatar, the Kindle? Isn’t it so much nicer to read when you have spare time instead of talking on and on and annoying others or watching inane videos on your mobile?
Am I the only one who feels in this manner? Is it a lost cause to expect people to respect others’ sanity in public spaces?
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