I think the fundamental problem with noisy people is not that they're inconsiderate, but that they don't have any train of thought to interrupt, and they thus don't realize the havoc they're wreaking.
When I was living in Providence, working on On Lisp, I told my loud but well-meaning neighbors that I was writing a hard computer book, and that made them be quiet. Ordinary people can understand that you need quiet if you're working on some specific, hard task, like doing math homework. What they don't grasp is that someone would want their mind to work that way all the time, as a matter of course.
You've probably already had your fill of argument for the day, but I think that assuming that noisy people don't have a train of thought to interrupt is a little bit uncharitable. (I'm assuming the best interpretation of what you said, which is that they don't have a train of thought while they're being noisy.) I've met enough people who can think and consider things while maintaining a non-stop chatter that now I think it's just another of those quirks of personality: I require solitude to think about things, they do not.
On the other hand, a mathematician he knew was able to do lots of mental things while counting that Feynman couldn't, and wasn't able to do other mental things while counting that Feynman could, because the other guy counted visually.
I picked an ordering of foods and imagined the transition from one to the next.
Touch is easier, since the ordering is already there. Just look at your fingers and imagine a sensation in each finger as you count. Easiest is to actually move your fingers though.
When I'm writing, I can't listen to music with lyrics or podcasts. That's not too surprising, since I'm obviously using the parts of my brain related to processing language for my work, so I can't process language in the background.
When I'm doing grunt-level programming or debugging, I can listen to music with words or podcasts.
But when I'm doing architecture-level program design, I can't listen to music with lyrics or podcasts. For me, this kind of thinking is too similar to writing.
In it he points out how some people with Alzheimers or other degenerative brain damage can use familiar music to co-ordinate a sort of 'flow' a rhythm of activity.
When I am coding it is like this. I can put on a familiar record that know back to front and then suddenly it is over and I haven't heard any of it but it has marshalled my flow for me.
Put on an unfamiliar playlist or a 'radio' style thing from last.fm (or the radio even) where I don't know what is going to be played next) and it trashes my flow.
So to get stuff out of Spotify I have to make and learn playlists (as it trashes the order of all the LP's which I have burnt into my head from years of listening to them on vinyl....)
Trying to count visually is almost impossible, I lose track before reaching twenty. As a friend of mine put this, “I can't count sheep to sleep because they are always cheating.”
Ask yourself, "how do I know I am breathing?": there is some physical sensation that tells you that you're breathing, whether it's a whistling noise in your nose, the feeling of air rushing past the tip of your nose or the back of your throat, the feeling of wanting to return to the neutral position that your ribs give you during a deep breath.
For a lot of people, just one of these sensations is the most dominant one. If you can pick one, just lie quietly and concentrate on it and notice it every time you take a breath.
This process is more about noticing sensation than doing any kind of cognition, so I find it very useful when trying to take a mid-day nap (I haven't had trouble sleeping at the end of the day since I had children, funny that).
"mind racing before sleep"? If you smoke, try not to smoke at least 1 hr before you go to bed.
One disturbing phenomenon I've discovered: When I use these ear muffs to block other people's noise, I gradually get more sensitive to their noise. My brain gets weaker at filtering out the distractions if I go too long without practice. I discovered that I had to force myself to NOT artificially block the noise for a few hours every few days to maintain an ability to block out the distraction in circumstances where I was UNABLE to artificially block the noise. Resistance to noisy distraction is a perceptual skill that can atrophy without practice.
In my case I've made a concerted effort to remove all aural advertising from my life -- this is rather easier nowadays, when it's trivial to watch videos and listen to music without ever consuming broadcast media.
But now when I do accidentally encounter normal TV/radio, it's amazingly grating and completely invades my head. I was in an airport in the US with TVs everywhere, and it was like trying to do work next to a fistfight. Commercial jingles pop into my head and stay there, when I'm unlucky enough to encounter them.
I think the problem is compounded by the fact that modern advertising is calculated to break through the normal deluge of attention-seeking noise that people are drenched in, so if you are not, in fact, already swimming in other noise, the sudden bursts are overwhelming.
When I was living in Providence,
Most days I spend my entire productive workday in a coffee shop across campus, precisely because it is loud and busy. Only with the surrounding noise can I avoid being distracted by specific things. The environment is so noisy that it allows me to ignore to entirely.
For me, when I'm able to concentrate, the background noise is irrelevant. I simply do not hear it.
As much as I love the mountains and forests, I've come to realise that I like the idea of solitude a lot more than the reality of it. And so I find myself living in large cities, constantly seeking noise because it's the only way I can find peace.
White noise, and ambient "study" music is great -- it's like a null placeholder, I can focus and I remember hearing nothing instead of hearing silence.
I have taken the quiet attitude home as well. I used to have the radio or TV on all day long when I was working on my computer. Now I turn everything off when I work at home.
Then again, that's focussed noise where I can easily pick out entire conversations. By contract, the coffee shop I'm in right now is full of a wild cacophony. So much noise that none of it forms a coherent picture. This is trivial to ignore.
In the end it probably comes down mostly to what you're willing to make work for you. I find a mostly silent room maddening enough that I'm unlikely to ever give it a try.
The office manager ruled with an iron fist, fortunately, and she really didn't care if someone didn't like her, so these folks got the boot. She saved that quiet room, as far as I'm concerned.
A crowded open plan office, with interesting and relevant conversations going on all around me, is detrimental to my productivity.
As someone who prefers absolute solitude for reading and writing, I can be very introverted, and I completely understand wanting things to be quiet. However, I think it's mistaken to assume all noisy people don't have any train of thought to interrupt. I think it's just as possible to be mindfully extroverted as it is to be mindlessly introverted. As for percentages and stuff, I'm at a loss; my bias is to assume mindlessness is more common than mindfulness regardless. I guess the difference is that mindless extroversion tends to be more obvious than mindless introversion.
The noisy folks tend to be a lot less effective (in particular, I mean those who chatter half the day away, and whose mistakes I was constantly fixing).
But... with their noise and disregard for my own concentration, they dragged down my effectiveness. (And my peace of mind and ultimately, health.)
One reason I now advocate -- strongly -- removing oneself from such environments as soon as possible.
I received a strong, sustained, and somewhat domineering message that I was the one who needed to adapt. And, being young and inexperienced and without much power, this caused both some significant self-doubt and great frustration.
I can't make up what I lost. But I can advise others to avoid similar loss.
I'm not sure I understand what you're saying: are you saying that noisy people don't think (or are stupid)?
I'm a "quiet one" too, but I think noisy people are the opposite of "thinkless"; they appear to be afraid of their own mind and what it could tell them about the insignificance of the world in general and their life in particular (anyone's life).
What they want is distraction; they use noise as a lid over an even more tumultuous and noisy torrent of depressing thoughts.
Why? That assumes that being alone with your own thoughts is somehow good for everyone. I've done it--it's not all it's cracked up to be, IMHO. I believe there's enough variation in the way people's brains are wired up that it's not really possible to say "this specific thing that works for me is also good for your own mood/well-being/thoughts".
I don't feel mentally stimulated by sitting around in nature or by meditating. It doesn't "clear my head" or make me look at my life in a new interesting perspective. It doesn't calm me in any meaningful way or anything like that. I mostly just feel annoyed that I'm not getting something accomplished, whether that "something" is actively creative or passively consumptive (as much as something passively consumptive can be "accomplished").
If that kind of thing works for you, that's great! I'm sure I take great mental pleasure from things you consider meaningless :-).
A common problem for people who can not be without stimuli is that they can not disassociate from their thoughts.
That means just looking at your thoughts or whatever other inner processes are going on and letting them pass by without getting attached to them.
This is what you train when you meditate and it does not come over night, but it gives you the ability to gain more control over yourself and quiet time or time you use to meditate becomes rather entertaining...
There are a lot of scientifically proven benefits for doing meditation as well.
Doing this is a lifestyle choice. There is nothing wrong if you enjoy drinking sugary soda drinks every day if that's you choice that's what it is.
I do meditation since several years and also studied the science related to it. This is meditation in a nutshell for me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sspY43lxqhE
However, I don't think that's a bad thing. I don't know how their minds work, so I just assume that we think and process the world a little differently. Because of that, I try to be sensitive to their needs/desires, and they do the same for me.
It's not a statement of who's "better," just how each person is a little bit different (for me anyway).
Actually, I've had it pointed out that you'll see people crinkling bags, shuffling feet, coughing and clearing throats, and so on if you're in an otherwise silent room. I know that I'm guilty of it sometimes, and when I stay mindful and clamp down on it, I notice someone else picks up the slack.
I must say that this choice of words rather took me aback as well. The problem is, it's difficult to call someone breathtakingly arrogant (which was my first reaction) when they have so much to be arrogant about!
I'd love to see some more insight on this from pg.
Edit: It's since occurred to me that pg may have meant at that particular moment rather than lacking a train of thought in a general sense. If that's the case, my comment is unjustified - apologies.
That's plausible; however, the conscious brain is constantly thinking / wandering / conjecturing about the past and the future, so it's next to impossible to not have a train of thought while you're awake. (If you have years and years of training as a zen master, maybe; if not, not).
Therefore, saying that people don't have a train of thought at a specific point in time is a little like saying they don't have a brain.
The rest of the post from PG would tend to confirm this: "ordinary people can understand" (...) "what they don't grasp".
Everyone, even "ordinary" or "normal" people have their trains of thought and to belittle them by suggesting otherwise...
I notice this mostly with the younger generation these days (young women especially). They literally feel the compulsion to always have some sort external stimuli coming in, usually in the form of a constant stream of music from their phones/MP3 players. I remember most of my ex girlfriends being like this, they could rarely be alone with their own thoughts for more than a few minutes.
I genuinely think that a lot of people are afraid of introspection and quiet these days, in fear of what they might find if they look inside themselves or just absorb the world around them in an unprocessed and unaltered fashion. It is just easier to shut down any self reflection our minds might attempt with a constant stream of junk stimulation from the outside.
ADD is becoming a huge problem these days and people's attention spans just keep getting shorter and shorter.
Similarly, I watch TV at night to dull the inner monologue in my head so I can fall asleep. If I don't my stupid mind fixates on the most negative aspects of my life (even when things are going well) and I stay awake for hours feeling horrible. TV, music, and reading can distract me and let me fall asleep peacefully.
The solution was surprisingly simple. When I wanted to stop the internal music, I focused on ambient noise. The leaves rustling in the trees. Passing cars: their tires on the pavement, brakes, engine, the exhaust note. There are quite a few things to notice. While focusing, the music stopped.
At first it took great deliberate effort to quiet the music in my head. But eventually it just went away, within a matter of weeks. I no longer need to exert effort, I have conscious control over whether I want to replay a song in my head, or just have silence.
My meditation teacher Gil Fronsdal thought of it. He's a genius.
What I prefer over TV for killing the brain noise before sleep is, again, music.
Music is the best.
I can say that forcing silence upon myself resulted in a "mental withdrawal", if you will. It wasn't very pleasant, the music gets louder and louder and quite unbearable at times. That said, I did indeed see some effects at the end, in a form of periods of silence in my mind(which was kind of spectacular for me; there's some music in the back of my head at all times). My opinion is that even longer period of non-listening would yield even bigger results.
I really recommend the experience(the deprivation, I mean; the Vipassana part is also cool, but kind of orthogonal). Even though it's very demanding, you can really put things into perspective and learn a lot about how your body reacts to things. It also gives you a completely different outlook on stuff like solitary confinement.
I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining. I love music and it's been a huge part of my life since I can remember (and I'm old).
But from my experience, I don't buy your theory. I think I'm just wired different than people that seek out quiet places.
Just stop when the brain starts picking up from there: "My stomach feels empty (BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T EATEN AND WHENEVER YOU DO YOU EAT TRASH)" you just stop the thought on the BE and focus on the next inner or outer thing or on the next number of the count. When you can't stop the thought on time, just ignore it and move on.
At first is hard, especially with a noisy brain, but it gets easier and easier.
Be it the noise of the ventilation system, or car horns outside, true silence rarely exists.
That said, when I am at home there is little else except for the sound of my computer fans as I read a book. But when I am at work, I most certainly choose to control what background noises I listen to. Music is most certainly a part of that.
As for stimulus shutting down self reflection, I find that quite the opposite is true. Different forms of stimulus encourage different forms of self reflection.
Can't find the article right now, but they once put people in a completely soundproof room; their minds started to make up sounds and increased their hearing sensitivity to the point where they could hear their own muscles move. I believe the longest one lasted 45 minutes.
So... If he had a sufficiently good methodology which proved his assertions, they would cease to be sexist and you politically correct lot would approve of them? Somehow I doubt it.
BTW: Are you proud not to be in the politically correct "lot"? All it really amounts to is trying not to be unnecessarily hateful or demeaning to one another.
I see. It's good to know that employers are now free to throw out all applications from Ethiopians, because of the fact that the average IQ in Ethiopia is 63.
> BTW: Are you proud not to be in the politically correct "lot"? All it really amounts to is trying not to be unnecessarily hateful or demeaning to one another.
Please. Political correctness amounts to much more than that.
I.e., if you're interviewing an individual for a job, that means you're evaluating that individual's ability to fulfill the job requirements.
You'll get a hell of a lot better mileage out of, say, talking to them about complicated problems than you could ever get from even the average IQ in their family, let alone country or some other ridiculously large group like that. No need to get into the discussion of how valid that number is -- it's irrelevant to a job interview.
To the original point -- if maybe some large-scale study does show that young women tend to make more "social noise" than young men, I'm still having trouble imagining ways that might be relevant when noisy people enter a room I'm in.
Later on I developed some sort of tolerance to the constant noise. Anyway I had the choice to move to a city or to the countryside last year when I decided to go back to Europe and the absolute silence at 3am out here, next to the mountains in southern Germany, is amazing.
I once have read an article about introverts vs. extroverts and the articles conclusion was that extroverts need to communicate with others in order to reflect on their ideas, while introverts tend to do reflection with themselves.
So, according to this article, if you tell extroverts to be quiet you are actually interrupting their train of thoughts.
Being an introvert myself, I would have never come to this conclusion on my own.
Maybe not quite so peaceful :)
Edit: My mistake, I'm normally on http://raining.fm/
I hope you enjoy it, I know I for one find it hard to focus with music in my ears, I've even tried Beethoven at one point but nothing gave me the right vibe.
And so is the fundamental problem with quiet people that they're hyper-sensitive, judgemental assholes?
A more polite, and perhaps more accurate rendering would be "Many noisy people work out what they think by saying it." To some of them the introvert who much prefers to think matters out before speaking may seem as thoughtless as they do to the introvert.
they don't have any train of thought to interrupt
It can be just as loud as people talking and (IMHO) can be harder to tune out. After all, we're used to hearing people talk all the time.
Oh and while I'm in the mood for ranting, people who eat with their mouths open--particularly when it's something crunchy--or who slurp in any way are going to be first up against the wall when the revolution comes.
I don't catch long distance trains in the US at all. I sometimes take the subway but more often than not you're just standing for 10-15 minutes. In Germany, I don't recall having a lot of problems with noise (although, on one train back from Oberhausen, the smoke was so thick you couldn't see one window from the other in a very Cheech and Chong moment). England varied but was generally fine.
What I'm not looking forward to is when cellphones become usable on planes because you know someone is going to sit there and talk loudly for the entire flight.
One tip though: my Bose noise cancelling headphones are worth their weight in gold.
That said, holy hell I can't stand the sound. Nothing will make me flee a place faster than listening to someone slurp their food as they shovel it into their gaping maw.
After spending some time in Taiwan, I found myself slurping tea and hot pot by default. I came to realize slurping has it's advantages – in particular, you don't burn your lips and tongue on hot liquids.
Although I've re-Westernized when it comes to not slurping food, I do still slurp tea. Apparently, I'm not alone in thinking it's the best way to drink it. From the LA Times:
To taste tea, you must slurp it loudly, because tea needs oxygen to release its flavor. "Can we make some noise?" Spillane urged those who were drinking too politely. "You need to spray your entire mouth and draw air in with the tea to get a proper taste."
Slurping also makes it possible to drink very hot liquid without burning the mouth, and tea is at its best when hot. As it cools, it loses flavor.
Slurping sounds generally annoy me, but I'll admit I slurp that first sip of coffee because I'm never quite sure exactly how hot it will be.
I think it's the repetition more than the actual slurp that bothers me, though. Any repetitive sound can send me into a rage after about a minute.
"Welcome back to the land of the Puritans," I thought to myself.
Does this happen in a jovial manner, or people really take serious offence to simple inconveniences?
The problem is that if you don't like it, you really don't like it. Meanwhile, if you don't mind it, people who do seem like jerks.
Imagine something more universally recognized as rude. E.g. Eating with someone who keeps making really smelly farts or picking his nose all the time. The disgust is visceral, and hard to rationalize away.
It's more like how you say it. "Hey Buddy, if you don't stop slurping, I am going to chew and then open my mouth wide to show you my handiwork." is very different from "I am leaving. You are so rude."
> The disgust is visceral, and hard to rationalize away.
The keyword is "friend" - someone who you can talk to; asking him not to do that as it is making you uncomfortable should be pretty easy.
Now, whats your point?
Here in France all train cars are "quiet cars" and most people respect that.
Sometimes you come across somebody who insists on talking on their cellphone while seated (you're supposed to make your calls on the "platform" which is the space between cars), but it's rare and usually doesn't last.
I wish it were true... I took the train last week and was in the same wagon as 4 "rednecks" who ate their lunch while drinking wine, chewing loudly and laughing. The whole wagon could hear what they were talking about. The SNCF employees didn't even care...
I am a regular train user and it is unfortunately pretty frequent occurrence.
People generally talk loud enough to happily hear each other over any background noise. They tend not to notice, either.
As such, when businesspeople consider the quiet car somewhere for meetings because everywhere else has noise, everyone in the car hears exactly what they are discussing.
My iMac at work has a nearly silent keyboard and it drives me up the walls, being so used to developing in my spare time on a loud machine.
This is must be a somewhat American problem. I once was at a Cheescake factory there, where it was so loud we could hardly talk with each other. We hypothesized that they do this for a higher turnover.
The people in the Amtrak trains, subways or buses did not bother me -- it was more the screeching noises those old relics made. I would be extremely annoyed by music in a library though.
I've heard that the loudness in restaurants isn't meant to increase turnover - it's actually used to attract people to the restaurant. The average restaurant-goer in NYC seems to have an aversion to places that are quiet enough to carry on a normal conversation. They apparently find the noisy environment to be stimulating and exciting. There are even special sound systems designed for restaurants that amplify certain components of the ambient noise if the natural acoustics of the room aren't noisy enough.
I agree there are many loud restaurants in Manhattan, but that is mostly a factor of the bar and/or a large space (e.g., Buddakan). Look for places not trying to attract attention (a full curtain on the window, rather than trying to advertise their popularity / bar scene).
My main point was probably that Manhattan != NYC. :)
I can (anecdotally) confirm that many places do this. One place where my friend worked adjusted the background music volume based on the wait time, and I know of several restaurants by me where the waitresses will say that the music goes up as the place gets busy to persuade people to leave after eating.
And therefore you drink more.
Surely you must be joking?
Anyone starting a Kickstart project for a better system can have my money.
No need to reinvent the wheel: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00009LI4K
"you cannot hear what anyone is saying unless they shout, and even then, it is difficult to understand them." http://www.amazon.com/review/R20X9DNAJC9ZX3/
"I use to study while my 2 year old screams her head off (as long as someone else is watching her of course!)." http://www.amazon.com/review/R29TUUYEQY98W9/
"I use them while doing research in a library. It's unbroken silence despite screaming kids and adults talking into their cellphones. People no longer understand proper behavior in a library, but I don't care. I can't hear them. It's wonderful." http://www.amazon.com/review/RQBNEZ9CX3O19/
The pair I have are effective enough at cutting out most noise that they're basically earplugs even with no music on and I can wear them for entire trans-atlantic/pacific flights.
Where I am (Australia) OH&S regulations say workplace noise louder than 85dB averaged over 8hrs requires the employer to provide hearing protection. The cabin of a 747 in flight is often louder than that, and for me it's usually a 13 or 14hr flight, so not using some form of hearing protection is almost certainly doing damage. But the best reason to wear protection is that I get off at the end of a 12+hr flight much more relaxed than when I don't have earplugs.
 big "DJ style" headphones with the cushions that surround/seal around the entire ear.
 I've heard, but never seen any actual evidence, that airlines operating in Australia have negotiated exemptions from the standard OH&S rules which would require cabin staff to fly wearing hearing protection.
I use a ThinkPad that has a noisy keyboard. When I type on a Macbook Pro, my typing is silent. The noise in my case is because of keyboard design, not because of my typing force, I prefer the audible feedback. If I'm in a shared space where all I can hear is my typing, I try not to type.
I have slight breathing problems due to a small nasal passage. When I eat, I sometimes have to breathe through my mouth. I try not to, because eating with your mouth open is considered rude.
I'm sorry, from those of us who type loud, to all of you.
This would work especially well if your boss is willing to spring for quiet keyboards for them, and if they're willing to use 'em.
I actually don't mind typing: to me, it sounds like ideas. It's also regular enough to become part of the background, whereas something like music isn't, because it's too variable.
>my Bose noise cancelling headphones are worth their weight in gold.
I'm going to be that obnoxious guy: Amazon lists Bose QC 15s (the model I have) as 7.4 ounces. The spot-price for gold right now is about $1,700 per ounce. Are they really worth $12,580?
I hate to be the other obnoxious guy that responds to the self proclaimed obnoxious guy, but I see the quite a bit lately, even paraded in XKCD. Is there a significant group of people that absolutely abhors all rhetorical figures of speech? Or is it only specific ones, such as metaphors and hyperbole, with simile being mostly OK? Just curious.
Could be a symptom of being a plain old nitwit, too, but not being a psychologist I wouldn't have any insight to offer beyond that.
In medical circles it would be called "learning disability".
On a more serious note though, mocking people who use a lot of metaphors is a good way to try to make yourself look intellectually superior. I see it a lot these days and I find it very passive aggressive. Back in school people making those kinds of comments would be called smartasses and have their asses kicked for using that kind of language.
I think the question is this: does a rhetorical figure of speech help the reader or writer see the things being compared or figurized in a new way? If the answer is no, then perhaps we should look at those rhetorical things as literal, in order to remind ourselves of the power of rhetoric.
I favor metaphors and hyperbole like politicians favor hand-shaking and baby-kissing. But it to be done well.
"By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash -- as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot -- it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking. "
"Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print."
Your own little "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" moment.
Our minds are amazing machines.
Deal with that one.
I've had the same experience before. For some reason people think the signs and the announcements don't apply to them and it just boggles my mind how much self awareness they lack! There's been a guy I've seen on the quiet car twice last week who for some reason had his iPhone at full volume and texted for the entire hour I was on the train. The problem wasn't the texting but that the iPhones clickers clackety keyboard sounds were on. Is that really necessary? And on the quiet car no less? A woman did the same thing a few weeks back. Of course no one said a word but we were all very annoyed. And then you get the oblivious guy who doesn't read signs or listen to the 3 announcements who talks on his cell the whole ride. And don't get me started on the teenagers who seem to be visiting the city for the first time and for some reason need to scream at each other despite being centimeters from each others face in a car full of completely silent people. The signs are obvious. The announcement are loud, clear, and numerous. So what the fuck, man?!
That's life now. It seems we have a whole generation of people who are just completely lacking self-awareness and have a serious problem with entitlement. But it's not young people this is specific to. I'm only 26 and I'm good on the quiet car (though I have had my moments I'll admit). There are people of all ages,miracles, and genders who behave this way and though I think humans are like this by nature anyway I also think the Internet and cell phones have made it worse. It seems like a learned behavior.
I just blamed Internet and cell phones for a portion of the world's ills. I'm going to go think about how old that makes me sound now...
Also 26 here. One of the great shortcomings of youth is not being able to understand that other people can be fundamentally different. Not better, not worse. Just different. This is something I'm only truly beginning to appreciate lately.
I had never realized until this thread that people could find typing annoying. Well, theoretically I mean I understood you could think "Oh that's annoying" and get on with life. But not the overwhelming, consuming pathos here.
Maybe the problem is less a lack of self-awareness and a serious problem with entitlement. Maybe the problem is this:
Their awareness of self leads them to different conclusions about what is and is not annoying. They don't see themselves as doing anything more entitled than breathing, because other people's typing bothers them about as much as your breathing.
You probably don't encounter the same people all the time. There's enough people out in the world such that each one can "have their moments" when they're around you, and nowhere else, and you wouldn't know the difference.
I do sympathize with you though. I've got a sound sensitivity problem, and lots of noises bug me way way way out of the ordinary compared to most peoples' tolerance. I know this isn't specifically related to quiet cars on trains, but noises in general still bug me (even my own oftentimes). I'm sometimes shocked how I can be on an airplane, with gigantic engines blowing away at tremendous force just 20 feet from me, yet a person a row ahead of me chewing gum or chowing down on pretzels penetrates in to my brain.
Some noises bother me a lot. Anything that's repetitive will annoy me to the point that I basically cannot function and get extremely angry, and it only takes a minute or two to get to that level. Sometimes sounds (and not necessarily loud ones) are physically uncomfortable.
I have similar issues with some textures (in food, clothing, etc.) and am very sensitive to smells (the cause nausea and headaches).
All my life I have been told I need to "get over" this, which I have certainly tried to do, but there seems to be only so much I can do about it. People who don't experience this level of sensitivity just think I'm being difficult and that I do this by choice. Frustrating.
I think the term is hyperacusis, but that now seems to general. I'd found a more specific term for this condition I think I have, but haven't been able to find any doctors or therapists willing to deal with it.
in my case I'm not sure I get physical discomfort - it's more mental, or at least, that's how I register it.
Why are so many people so totally oblivious to so many announcements, signs, and otherwise?
You've all seen it: Boarding a plane, for example. "Ladies, and Gentlemen, we're boarding rows 1 - 5 now. Thanks." And as sure as Spring, there will _always_ be someone from row 324 who gets in line. The staff are far more polite than I'd be: "Sir, we're boarding rows 1 - 5. You're in row 324. I literally just made this announcement four seconds ago." And still, more people from other rows will attempt to board.
This happens endlessly, everywhere. "Please don't stand here." Someone will stand here. "Please step forward if you have a yellow ticket." Someone will say "But nobody called the yellow tickets?"
Perhaps I'm too attentive or perhaps I shouldn't be annoyed by this, but I am and I am.
Just yesterday I noticed that a single bus door had SIXTEEN warning signs on it. I dare suggest that nobody else noticed any of them that day.
If you get in line for rows 1-5, and your ticket reads 324, your worst case scenario is standing in line until they call your rows. The best case scenario is guaranteed luggage space and convenience.
People who have just arrived at the gate, and are a bit confused, and also afraid of missing the plane. Is this the last call?
Especially when you are rushing for your 4th connecting flight on a 30 hours trip.
I think you greatly under-estimate people's economic or opportunistic sense of a good chance to get guaranteed luggage space and enough space around them to take off jackets, sweaters and whatever else they might need to feel comfortable sitting down on a plane.
Ah, Dora the Explorer generation...
1. Figure out what earplugs work well. Working well means good sound suppression but also means earplugs that you can have in your ear comfortably for long stretches. I can sleep the entire night in the ones I settled on (I buy them bulk: http://www.amazon.com/Moldex-6800-Pura-Fit-Soft-Earplugs/dp/... ).
2. Get over-the-ear headphones, the kind that physically enclose your entire ear. Mine are noise-canceling as well but most of the benefit comes from the enclosure.
3. Play a white noise mp3 into the headphones. Turn the volume up to the point where you can just hear it through the earplugs you're also wearing.
With that setup, I would not even notice people talking next to me. People would often have to wave their hand by my laptop screen to get my attention (to ask me to share the coffeeshop's power outlet or what not).
I rent an office now and am happy that is not a daily situation for me, but that's how I made the best of it after much experimentation.
~$200 total, $100 for the basic earbuds and another $100 to get the earbuds "custom fit."
When they're off, they offer almost as good noise suppression as earplugs. When they are on, I can listen to music with great fidelity. I mostly listen to classical and rock.
Most importantly, they are extremely comfortable. I bought them when I was flying cross-country every week, and I wanted to have something that wouldn't hurt my ears after a few hours.
I would not consider reasonable using earplugs while walking in a jungle, or standing in a road/open space, or when driving a car myself :-) .
I do earplugs + headphones thing, it really does help against regular noise.
I'm not saying that Here It Is, The Reason Suburban Living Is Better Than Anything Anywhere. I'm just saying, if you're one of those people who just can't imagine what anyone would find appealing about the lifestyle, but were also nodding your head in agreement with this piece... now you can.
Nowhere has the noise gotten to me like in suburbia. Two words: leaf blowers.
Worse! They blew everything directly into the bicycle parking row! Years' worth of dirt on my bike in one minute. Debris and filth in all the works. Earthworms. Had to completely detail the whole bike.
Meanwhile, leaves are some of the best compost available. Why do we blow them noisomely to rot on the "unused" areas of the pavement (i.e., bike parking, bike lanes)?
Tokyo has a lot of these. It doesn't have a single "downtown", but rather a large number of busy centers, usually around railroad stations, and in many parts of central Tokyo, the "infill" between these is residential single-family housing or small apartment buildings. In many of those areas, streets are very narrow and windy, there's very little automobile traffic (people walk or bicycle), and it's often very quiet, to the point where one can sometimes hear people talking inside houses while walking down the street...
All is fine and dandy until one of those stupid delivery trucks shows up near my building at 6am blaring "Hidari e magarimasu, gochuui kudasai. Hidari e magarimasu, gochuui kudasai. Hidari e magarimasu, gochuui kudasai". For people unfamiliar with Japan, various trucks here are not only equipped with visual (light based) turn signals, but audio based ones as well. This means that whenever they are taking a turn, they are blaring from their speakers "Turning left, please be careful. Turning left, please be careful" ad nauseam.
Seriously, is that really necessary? Not to mention trucks with loudspeakers playing loud music promoting new bands and what not. I find Tokyo to be anything but a quiet city.
To make things worse, sound proofing is so terrible in Japanese houses and buildings (construction standards are really poor here compared to the ones we have in the west), that despite living on the 6th floor I can often make out contents of the conversations of loud drunk groups returning from izakayas at 1am.
All in all, this is the same amount of noise I grew up hearing in a quiet suburban neighborhood.
But it's all concentrated on east-west streets (in my area). I live less than a block up from the main artery, and it's completely silent here. Ground floor apartment, window onto the street.
Of course I'm not saying that overall our cities haven't increased in their background volume by virtue of more people and things such as air planes and leaf blowers, but to go another step further and call a entire generation of people inconsiderate and loud because they're used to being on a "solipsistic" internet smacks of a classic sense generational moral superiority.
And I'm also just as surprised that to come here, with as good of a community as I feel HN has, after scanning through the comments section, not a single person mentioned this in the first comment in each comment-tree. Instead it was a mess of "well, yes, us quiet people are so superior...".
Also, "more immoral" is a claim going back thousands of years, which is in large part what makes it unlikely. The claim that the internet generation is louder is only making a claim about a trend in the last 20 years or so.
Out of curiosity, I searched for Aaron James and found the book whose title could not be mentioned: Assholes: A Theory. From Amazon's review of the book:
What does it mean for someone to be an asshole? The answer is not obvious, despite the fact that we are often personally stuck dealing with people for whom there is no better name. Try as we might to avoid them, assholes are found everywhere—at work, at home, on the road, and in the public sphere. Encountering one causes great difficulty and personal strain, especially because we often cannot understand why exactly someone should be acting like that.
Asshole management begins with asshole understanding. Much as Machiavelli illuminated political strategy for princes, this book finally gives us the concepts to think or say why assholes disturb us so, and explains why such people seem part of the human social condition, especially in an age of raging narcissism and unbridled capitalism. These concepts are also practically useful, as understanding the asshole we are stuck with helps us think constructively about how to handle problems he (and they are mostly all men) presents. We get a better sense of when the asshole is best resisted, and when he is best ignored—a better sense of what is, and what is not, worth fighting for.
(I've visiting from my laptop. Assuming mobile version probably doesn't look the same.)
* Americans speak louder than other people
* Something about the American accent means spoken American travels further and more piercingly than other languages
* People expect Americans to be louder, so there's massive selection bias at work...
Having travelled long and far, I suspect it's all three...
...and there you get it. It's really about someone pining for the golden age, and habits that weren't as innocuous as he presents it.
Nowadays we have to live in the same space with millions of people, who all have different needs and habits. The kinds practicing rap on public transport are probably using one of the few spaces they feel safe to do so. It's annoying to you, but in your golden age half of them probably wouldn't grow into their current age, and the rest would be working in a factory. And just your hat-tipping-gentleman social position would mean that you can order them around. Unless you're unlucky enough to actually be one of them. Is this really something we want to present as more civilized? Because for me, the respect is obvious in that people can do a lot more than in your golden age (which was mostly more stinky and loud than in your icons).
We get quiet cars. We are able to acoustically isolate areas in libraries to an extent impossible. And at least Swiss quiet cars are actually quiet cars, so your headphones and typing is annoying others, and you will be reproached for it, so please use a notebook.
While settling down I talked a bit with my neighbors. And there's one thing I found out: I'm not the quiet one. We all were. Just at different times. When I shut down on the weekend, my upstairs neighbor likes to exercise. At time I like playing computer games, she does late work from home stuff. And your noisy teenagers may turn out to read books or code at home. No matter how impossible it seems to you that a woman with a cellphone might actually be a coder, or an artist.
Ah, and more and more railways are carrying quiet cars. So maybe portraying them as last vestiges of your vow-of-silence lifestyle is somewhat misguided.
My office is in a residential neighborhood. The sound of a gas powered leaf blower is at just the right frequency to penetrate the double-pane windows, my noise-isolating earbuds, and it somehow overcomes all background noise. The whine and revving is audible. All. Day. Long. From every direction.
I imagine to the operators it seems like a sensible choice -- What harm can I possibly be doing? I'm just one guy blowing some leaves around! But to me -- the guy four blocks over trying to write code for a living -- it hurts deep in my soul, and I wonder when exactly we became so fearful of physical activity. When did we forget how to USE A RAKE?!?!
I know, I know. Cry me a river.
The person using a leaf blower isn't using one because they enjoy it. They have another 5000 places to manicure afterward—a rake no longer enters the equation since its coefficient of expedience is so low. This in turn, of course, impacts price. The employer of said manicurist passed the buck because they didn't have the time to rake it themselves.
I'd imagine that for those irritated by things of the sort, when it comes to irritants, unkempt yards would also somehow find a way to break concentrations as widely as loud leaf blowers.