Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Sound of Music - please make it stop

Am I the only one who finds the modern trend of permanently having music playing wherever you go to be incredibly irritating?
My son is 17 and seems to be incapable of functioning without some form of music blaring out.
From the time he wakes up in the morning and immediately logs into Spotify to the evening sitting in his room with something or other shaking the bedroom door because he insists on cranking up the bass control up to maximum, there's no period of waking time where he allows himself to exist in silence. Thanks to a bluetooth speaker, he even carries his music between rooms rather than pause it, whether it's getting a shower or raiding the fridge for a snack.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that so much modern music sounds like it's being sung by an Autotuned nobody on speed to a backing track supplied by a faulty PacMan arcade game.

It's not just in the home that you notice this shift in listening habits.
Take a walk into town and note how many people have earphones in, blotting out the world around them - even when cycling, which is a recipe for disaster on our overcrowded roads.
Walk into a shop - especially a clothes shop - and you're likely to be greeted by some sort of music that makes it hard to concentrate.
A couple of months ago I ventured into JD Sports in Cambridge, and was practically assaulted by some awful racket from a vast array of speakers. I was asked by a staff member what I was looking for and I genuinely could not remember why I was there and was suddenly unable to even speak coherently - my brain simply couldn't process the necessary information because of the noise.
A few staff members looked at me curiously - I noticed they all looked to be about fifteen years old and apparently immune to the deafening roar surrounding them - at which point I figured that this wasn't a place I wanted to be, and I quickly departed.

It feels like no matter where you go, someone feels the need to surround themselves with music.
It's as if everyone is terrified at the possibility of spending any time at all in their own head, where they might actually realise there's nothing of any appreciable substance in there.
Music, which not that long ago was something to be enjoyed as a specific activity, has become nothing more than aural wallpaper; a device to provide a barrier or shock-absorber between the individual and the world around them.
It's much the same with mobile phones. Now I'm not going to go on a big downer about mobiles, but it's a similar issue to the music thing, where people wander along the street completely unaware of what's going on around them because they're staring at a touchscreen six inches from their face.
They walk into other people, step out into the road without looking, and are generally disconnected from the world.
The other morning I was walking to work and a guy was doing what I call the 'ostrich walk' with his head buried in his phone. He pressed the button at a pedestrian crossing, the lights changed, the cars stopped, and he just stood there staring at his phone. I couldn't help myself and shouted at him, at which point, shocked, he gathered what was left of his wits and skittered across the road as the lights were changing back.

I find myself increasingly frustrated at so many people's lack of involvement in their surroundings.
They do whatever they can to separate themselves from reality, losing themselves in stupid and pointless Facebook posts, text messages and Tweets, while ensuring that the sounds of people, traffic, birds singing and the wind rustling the leaves on the trees stand absolutely no chance of filtering through into their consciousness.
Has the world become so bad that it needs to be blotted out?
I must seem so weird because I listen to music when I want to sit down and listen to it and otherwise enjoy a nice bit of peace and quiet, allowing my thoughts to drift in and out of my mind, problem solving, observing my surroundings, evaluating experiences, and generally being content in my own head.

Yet another High Street zombie performing the Ostrich Walk