Noise Overdose

Since I chose to do my ethnographic study on base libs, I’ve been thinking a lot about the volume of an environment and how that affects the people in it. I have been observing in a place of near silence and I’ve been able to see how that can affect the people in it, but what about places that are the opposite of that? Places that are so loud that the noises all mix together and it’s just one huge sound? I found an article from a few years ago in The New York Times about the sound levels in New York city and how crazy it has gotten. The article said, “The New York Times measure noise levels at 37 restaurants, bars, stores and gyms across the city and found levels that experts said bordered on dangerous at one-third of them.” New York is becoming louder and louder and it’s becoming a problem for those who live and work there. One waitress that they interviewed said that she got headaches all the time and had to take medicine to control it. These headaches are a result of working multiple hours in an environment above levels that a person is allowed to be subjected to for long periods of time.

Later in the article, it began discussing about the reasons for these loud environments. Apparently, research has shown that people tend to drink more and chew faster when the music is loud and fast, which comes in handy when you are trying to get people in and out of a busy restaurant. Unfortunately, this loud and fast music is forced upon the staff in the meantime. “Repeated exposure to loud noise often damages hearing and has been linked to higher levels of stress, hypertension, and heart disease”, which is exactly what the people who work at these places are going to have to deal with. Even though there are regulations in place, many work places aren’t inspected.

Not only are restaurants and bars using noise to affect their customers, but so are clothing stores. Ever walked into an Abercrombie & Fitch and experienced the abrasive music mixed with the overwhelming perfumes? They do that on purpose. They turn the store into a “club like” atmosphere to draw in young teens and keep out the older clientele so that the store can keep its image. It’s truly ridiculous that a place would be so dedicated to keeping older people out that they would raise the noise decibels to levels that could seriously harm the people who work for them. Personally, I will never go into a place like A&F because I hate how loud it is. Maybe I’m just a weird young person who thinks like a grandma sometimes, but come on, it’s soooo loud in there. I feel bad for the people who work there and I’ll probably never try to get a job at a loud place like that. I don’t know how they do it.

If anyone is interested in reading the full article, here is the link.