Hey city-slickers, stop shouting about the noise
You’d be laughed out of town if you said that you’d moved to regional Australia for the hustle and bustle, so why do people who live in big cities spend so much time complaining how noisy it is.
Message to city-dwellers: when you choose to live in a metropolis there’s a few things that you must accept.
a) It’s never going to be easy to find a parking spot. b) You’re probably going to have a frustratingly small wheelie bin that will be stolen more than a handful or times and, c) It’s never, never, ever, ever going to be quiet. Never.
You’re going to hear sirens, hoons, trucks, rumble of rush hour, children playing on the street, neighbours having a party, neighbours having a fight. Aeroplanes, buses, motorbikes, swimming pool dins, car doors, car horns, swearing, garbage trucks, trams, barking dogs and more. Cities are noisy.
So why is it that despite the very obvious nature of these noises, there are some people who remain intent on complaining about them, at great length?
The good people of Melbourne have provided the most recent example of this kind of whingeing, having nominated the lowly busker, singing or playing the banjo on the street corner, as the most noise-aggravating thing in their urban environment.
The Herald Sun reported last month:
“The street musos, along with spruikers, are proving more annoying than rowdy nightclub revellers, building works and even industrial machinery.”
They’ve also been the subject of 162 complaints to the City of Melbourne over the past twelve months; beating potentially more obviously “noisy” things like loud garbage trucks (66 complaints) and barking dogs (72 complaints), hands down.
Perhaps Melbourne’s buskers are just really, really bad. Or they’re good but choose to do lots of boho-chic Bob Dylan impersonations.
While the noise generated by pubs and restaurants were ranked second on Melbourne’s list of urban gripes it was also the “most improved” category, dropping from the 150 complaints reported in 2009 to 90 this year.
But I think they’ve left out a crucial part of this test and that’s evaluating noise levels “inside” city pubs and restaurants.
Think about it. What’s the first thing that you remember about your most recent trip to a pub or restaurant? Is it the food you ate, the company you shared, the hangover you endured or was it just how much time you spent having to repeat yourself and shout over the crowd/music/floorboards.
For me it’s almost always the latter. Thanks to the proliferation of hardwood floors in these kind of premises, it’s literally getting harder and harder to hear anyone.
According to George Prochink at The Daily Beast, French researchers say increased noise levels are also responsible for making everyone drink more too.
“A study completed in the summer of 2008 in France found that when music was played at 72 decibels, men consumed an average of 2.6 drinks at a rate of one drink per 14.51 minutes. When the sound level was cranked up to 88 decibels, the numbers spiked to an average of 3.4 drinks, with one consumed every 11.47 minutes. Reasons for this acceleration may include an increase in ambient energy, and a consequent increase of difficulty in talking, which makes it easier to just signal the bartender for a refill than to engage in conversation. It may also be explained by actual changes in brain chemistry.”
It also looks to be a trend that’s not going to go away in a hurry as Prochink discovered after a recent and “shouty” lunch date with one of Manhattan’s top restaurant designers; a man who claims the greater the level of noise in a restaurant, the more confident the owners can be of how “successful” it will be. He told Prochink:
“People don’t want a space that’s really dead quiet, because that feels empty. And if it feels empty, it’s not going to feel successful. It’s not going to feel fun. You know, noise makes a place feel like it’s got a buzz.”
Given the increasing competition about all things food, that’s not exactly good news for anyone looking for a “quiet” night out on the town and it will certainly spell the end of enjoying a catch-up with friends and actually being able to have a conversation.
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