Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Do we make too much noise?

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Greg Peck
Thursday, August 8, 2013

I saw a story this week that a fellow named Rob Zombie, a rock musician, no less, has complained to officials near his Connecticut home because a nearby skatepark is generating too much noise. Seems sort of like turnabout, I imagine.

That came the same day I read Esther J. Cepeda's latest column. She says that the luxury of working from a home office has heightened her awareness about how loud the world has gotten. “The sheer volume of people talking on their cellphones, of screeching PA system announcements, of the 'atmosphere' music in clothing stores and of TVs blaring in restaurants has steadily become more bothersome.”

She added: “Even leaving aside the utter boorishness of people who seem to think that it's as appropriate to shout into their cellphones—or to their equally loudmouthed companions—during a football game as during a funeral service, the loudness of the places and things in our lives has reached an unprecedented pitch.”

She criticizes the level of noise in restaurants.

“Whether it's from roaring music or TVs, restaurants are a terrible culprit. Last summer, The New York Times clocked a popular midtown Manhattan restaurant at an average of 96 decibels over the course of an hour, about as noisy as a power mower, motorcycle, farm tractor or garbage truck.”

She notes that Garret Keizer wrote a 2010 book on the problem. It's called “The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise.”

Research, reports Cepeda, has linked high levels of noise to hearing impairment, anxiety, mental illness, reduced cognitive functioning, longer recovery times in hospitals and increased risks of heart attacks. Plus, Keizer notes, “one of the first casualties of noise is conversation.”

I've noticed that, from time to time, we have the TV turned on too loud. I have a hard time making out the words on a show when the window air conditioner in our living room is running. I likewise struggle to make out lyrics at the average concert—say nothing about that loud Florida Georgia Line show at the Rock County 4-H Fair. I often struggle to hear anything anyone is saying in a tavern.

We get Sound Off complaints from time to time about loud motorcycles around the city. One motorcycle passed me on my bicycle recently and was so loud I feared it would rattle the paint off my bike.

But most often, the most annoying noise I face is Mr. Cardinal, who thinks it's time to start singing outside our open bedroom window at 4 a.m. Yes, 4—and the alarm doesn't even ring until 5!

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.





Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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