People who would never throw litter from their car will drive past you with their radio blaring. People who'd never blow cigar smoke at you in a crowded restaurant will bellow into their cell phone. They'll shout at each other across the space of a dinner plate.
These people who would never spray herbicides or insecticides will fog the neighborhood with their stereo playing Scottish bagpipe music. Chinese opera. Country and western.
Outdoors, a bird singing is fine. Patsy Cline is not.
Outdoors, the din of traffic is bad enough. Adding Chopin's Piano Concerto in E Minor is not making the situation any better.
You turn up your music to hide the noise. Other people turn up their music to hide yours. You turn up yours again. Everyone buys a bigger stereo system. This is the arms race of sound. You don't win with a lot of treble.
This isn't about quality. It's about volume.
This isn't about music. This is about winning.
You stomp the competition with the bass line. You rattle windows. You drop the melody line and shout the lyrics. You put in foul language and come down hard on each cussword.
You dominate. This is really about power.
These music-oholics. These calm-ophobics.
No one wants to admit we're addicted to music. That's just not possible. No one's addicted to music and television and radio. We just need more of it, more channels, a larger screen, more volume. We can't bear to be without it, but no, nobody's addicted.
We could turn it off anytime we wanted.
These distraction-oholics. These focus-ophobics.
Old George Orwell got it backward.
Big Brother isn't watching. He's singing and dancing. He's pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother's busy holding your attention every moment you're awake. He's making sure you're always distracted. He's making sure you're fully absorbed.
He's making sure your imagination withers. Until it's as useful as your appendix. He's making sure your attention is always filled.
And this being fed, it's worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what's in your mind. With everyone's imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.
(From Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk)
This almost sounds on the verge of a conspiracy theory, but I think there's something to it. I admit it - I am addicted to music. For the past ten years, I've carried my cd player or ipod with me everywhere. Everywhere. I'd carry a pack of extra batteries for trips with my cd player, and three books of cds. I'd sit in airports during layovers on the floor next to an outlet to charge my ipod. It really is distractionophilia. I can totally see myself going through withdrawals if I didn't have it. I'm not addicted to tv, though. Sure, if it's available, I'll watch it, but I've gone months without tv and not missed it. Tv's like pot. My music's like heroin (not like I actually know what that's like). The idea of spending a week without it scares me. Hell, a day. A day without my music? What? No. Scary. But what do they say? Face your fears? Okay, fine. I've put my ipod in a drawer and won't open it until next Friday. I've set my mp3 folders to "hidden" - they don't exist to me for the next week. I'm curious. Nervous, but curious. My roommate comes back on Sunday and she has pretty decent speakers, and I can usually tune it out with my own music, but I'll just have to deal with it now.
Edit: First observation: I talk outloud to myself things that I'd normally just think.
So if I go crazy in the next few days, you'll know why.