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?

9 Thoughts on “The Menace of Loud Noise in Public Spaces

  1. Indeed! Some of us have had to enforce no gadget time rules.

  2. Aah! I am glad that I am not the only one. I feel exactly the same on noise around me. My earlier househelp used to talk non-stop on phone while she was working for 25-30 minutes. It was so irritating. It was difficult for me to even speak to her about any additional work etc. She’d come while on phone and would be still talking by the time I closed the door after her!
    And these videos without ear phones in public spaces… I HATE it.
    I dont think people have concept of respecting other people’s space. SIGH
    I have written a similar post with the title Should You Expect Privacy in Public Spaces?

  3. I am with you on this one. I find it really annoying when people don’t use headphones in public places. Of-course my reasons are more selfish, because I am almost always reading a book in every spare minute (I even carry one to the grocery store), and so it’s distracting. I mean feel free to indulge yourself, do whatever you please, so long as it doesn’t bother others.

  4. I am shocked to learn of the house help on the phone while at work. I dont let that happen in my house as I want peace and quiet at that time in the morning. In fact I am blessed that they dont do this while working. I see them on their phone otherwise whenever they are sitting around outside.

    When in a cab if the driver is on a long call, I always request them to get off the phone. I know what you mean by the invasion this can be when you are sitting in a cab. Sometimes in a shared one, people are on loud and long conversations too and yes it gets annoying.

    Most of the elderly people I know (including my parents) do the video watching thing without the headphones. I have tried so many times to get them to put on the head phones but to no avail.

    Yes noise invasion has greatly increased in past few years and its amazing how insular people have become to it.

  5. Noise is indeed so high! The moment the light goes and if you don’t have power backup you see the immediate difference in the noise. I agree with you, we are hurting our ears and the headphones are another menace!

  6. This is really annoying. Since I am mostly working when my house help comes, I have to tell her to finish her conversation and come. The noise doesn’t let me concentrate. The problem is more about a lack of phone etiquette.

  7. I haven’t been to a pub or party in ages so don’t think I can endure any loud noise now. Everything here is so quiet that finding loud people is quite funny. Even the trains are usually quiet. But the City/CBD is a whole different affair. In fact, I once went to a housewarming party of a friend and they played the music so loud that I could barely continue any conversation. You must have a lot of patience to handle a chatty maid.

  8. I too like my peace. People constantly talking over the phones annoys me, esp when in public places. Yes, whatever happened to good old reading or simply observing life as it went by!

  9. Agree with each and every example you’ve quoted Rachna. The Uber and Ola drivers is a real nuisance. Even at midnight, for the full 120 minutes of my ride back from the airport, the driver is continuously on phone. You perhaps missed out on naming the two-wheeler drivers, religiously yapping along, keeping the phone between their head and shoulder, with the head titled at almost a right angle. It is so dangerous.

Do not leave without commenting. I love a good conversation :).

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