Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Right to Quiet Society

The Vancouver-based Right to Quiet Society opposes the use of what it calls "program audio": "canned music, radio, and television soundtrack, particularly when provided as a 'background' in places where people gather":

Program audio is particularly insidious because it encourages passivity and conformity: like so much else in our modern society, it calls on us to be consumers, mere sponges, rather than thinkers and doers with spontaneous responses.

Even when program audio is pushed on us with good intentions, the underlying assumption is an insulting one: that our empty heads need to be kept filled with artificial stimuli so that we do not become insufferably bored.
I recently learned that the waiting area at my doctor's office now features a television playing FOX News. The next time I'm there — promise — I'll ask someone in "charge" why television — much less cable news, much less the FOX brand — is a good idea for people waiting to see a doctor.

Elaine recently wrote about the background music — or was it foreground music? — in a nearby bookstore. Or, as she would prefer, book store.

comments: 5

Slywy said...

Another thing I've been meaning to write about. I've been in restaurants where everyone has to raise their voices to be heard over the din caused by the combination of loud music and raised voices. A lot of people seems to feel this adds to the "energy." When I'm eating and socializing, I don't want "energy." I want to relax. AND HEAR AND BE HEARD.

Sorry for shouting.

(And often I hate the music, which, have I mentioned, is hard to hear over, whether you're hearing impaired like me or not?)

Experiment Garden said...

A lot of times stores use music as a way of encouraging buying patterns and psychological moods that will cause their shoppers to feel a certain way.

It is a slightly devious technique, but it works, and it seems that there is little that us customers can do to stop it.

Matthew Schmeer said...

I wonder if Coudal Partners could change their SHHH cards to tackle the background/foreground music problem:

stefan said...

Good on you, Michael, for vowing to see about turning off televisions in public places. There are many times when one is powerless to stop unwanted background sounds, but I've found (at the carwash, the vet's office, Jiffy Lube) that folks rarely object when one asks politely to turn off a television. I've even had fellow customers thank me.

Michael Leddy said...

The last time I handed a cellphone user a note — "We're in a library — could you please talk elsewhere?" — the talker packed up and left, but only after finishing her call.

I'll report back on what happens with the television (it probably won't be for a while).