Noise pollution doesn’t sell. At least to the growing population of Canadians older and younger who, like myself, find ourselves trying to negotiate an increasing noisy world with hearing impairment.
There’s nothing like good music to lift the spirits or soothe the soul. Unfortunately the “musical” background provided by most of our local eating and drinking establishments often gets in the way of good conversation and becomes just noise. It may also be harming us.
To quote David Suzuki, sound has the power to heal but it also has the power to harm. Evidence is beginning to show that the increasing noise that we live with every day in urban settings is not healthy for any age. But for someone with hearing aids it’s also painful. Wearing a hearing aid is like having a microphone in your ear, which most often means that you hear everything but the voice of the person you want to hear, even when they’re right beside you. Background noise cancels out the subtleties of voice. Being in restaurants and bars where common practice is to crank up the music to add to the ambience becomes an endurance contest.
We’re blessed with good restaurants and coffee shops here in Terrace. But those of us with impaired hearing have to endure the sounds of coffee machines, coolers and fans and try find a quiet corner. We can’t do anything about that, but we can ask restuarants to turn down the music or even turn it off. And sometimes they do! I’ve heard that in larger cities restaurants use loud music deliberately so folks don’t linger over their meals and cut into their revenue. But here in Terrace where the lifestyle is more relaxed, I like to think the use of loud music is more lack of awareness.
Recently at lunch in the Blue Fin, a sympathetic server turned the music right off for the second time in my experience there. Turns out she’d tried a friend’s hearing aid and experienced the uncomfortable blast of sound herself. Ironically, in a workplace where loud music is prevalent, she is one of a young generation in the service industry more likely to experience work related hearing impairment at a far earlier age than previous generations.
So let’s consider turning the music down and making our public gathering places more ear friendly! This as a health and a social issue. Those who want loud music can still plug in their earphones, turn up their tunes on the open road, or go to traditionally loud public events and spaces. Most of us go out for food or beverage with friends and family because we want to enjoy each other’s company. It’s a lot easier to do that without straining to hear or shouting to be heard.