Warm summertime temperatures motivate me to get outside and take a daily walk (most of the time). Sometimes I take my smartphone with me to play some music to enjoy through my earbuds and to keep me going. To those of you who are also products of the 1980s, this is the equivalent of those guys who used to walk around toting a boom box on their shoulders. Back then, they would blast the music so loud that I don’t know how they didn’t go deaf. Thank goodness for headphones and earbuds. Now people all over the world can slowly ruin their hearing without bothering the rest of us.
I’ve never understood the obsession most people have with constantly playing music. It’s like they’re starring in their own movie and want their own personal soundtrack. That’s fine if that’s your thing, but it’s not mine and I don’t want to hear your soundtrack. I particularly don’t want to hear your soundtrack when you’re blaring it at maximum volume just to garner attention.
This pet peeve of mine came to mind as I was walking in downtown Pittsburgh during my dinner break from work. It was a quiet, peaceful evening after the downtown din and hustle and bustle had subsided. Though I walk for exercise, I also find it relaxing and use the time to think. All of a sudden, I was jolted out of that quiet moment of reflection with a thudding boom, boom, boom! Some yahoo in one of those three-wheeled adult tricycle dune buggy contraptions was creeping down the street blaring his music so loudly that the pavement vibrated. What made him think that all of us wanted to hear his musical choice? It certainly was not my musical choice. He eventually rolled away and I continued on my walk only to hear boom, boom, boom! This time, the vibrations were coming from the Allegheny River. I looked over the bridge handrail to see some old party boat that was in sore need of a coat of paint but was packed with people being blasted with some 1990s dance mix. They must have been 500 yards away, but the noise was deafening.
There’s a nice young coworker of mine who comes in for the morning shifts when it’s quiet and peaceful and I’m quietly preparing my forecast or news copy. Then he selects some music on his smartphone and starts playing it on speakerphone as he walks around the studio preparing the news set. Sigh. My train of thought and quiet time is lost once again. Is it just me? I find it hard to concentrate or read when there’s music playing or the television is on in the background. Other people say they enjoy listening to music while they read. It’s funny how our brains are all wired differently. More and more, I find that silence is music to my ears.
Kristin Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.