I could not agree more with both of my guest’s comments regarding Sonic Graffitti (9/2/04 post). The thought occured to me, too, that this issue speaks to the quality of life for citizens not just as they go about their daily lives out and about, but as they work as well. I’m talking now about high levels of noise in the workplace.
OSHA has standards for industrial noise, but I’m referring to your ordinary crowded office, call center, or other type of administrative facility where chatter and noise is commonplace and detracts from anyone having the ability to concentrate on tasks that require any type of thinking.
Businesses would be wise to find ways they can reduce workplace noise so that workers can concentrate on their jobs. Since the advent of the cubicle and the step away from walled offices, this has become a huge, unexpected problem. I suppose company executives, who have their own cushy offices can’t expect to be concerned about the utter lack of privacy and constant noise levels that most cubicle dwellers must endure, despite the best efforts of Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert).
But it’s not just the average office worker that would benefit from a move towards reducing workplace noise. As productivity gains from computer technology reach a plateau, companies could gain huge levels of productivity if they would only focus on this issue, rather than working solely to raise their CEO’s salaries ever higher.
A suggested solution: give everyone a tall, sound-insulated cubicle with a door. Computer technology allows for every keystroke a worker enters to be recorded by the employer, so supervisors who feel they need to monitor their workers closely do not have to feel that they have to be constantly invading their worker’s physical personal space to accomplish this type of close supervision (not that I necessarily condone this type of micromanagement for all businesses, but for some jobs this may be appropriate).
In conjunction with this, offices could spruce up meeting rooms, break rooms, and other common areas so that workers could not only concentrate on their work but feel good about congregating with their co-workers.
But, back to the issue at hand. Music can be enjoyed at a reasonably loud level in the privacy of one’s car without the need for enormous sub-woofers and other amplifiers. High quality earphones are relatively inexpensive and eliminate the need for music buffs to feel the need to share their tastes with everyone around them.
The point of this type of automobile equipment, however, seems solely to intentionally deliver sonic aggression. It’s akin to psychological warfare and it must end. Cops have to have the balls to get out there and enforce noise ordinances by issuing tickets.
As far as Circuit City and other companies that encourage noise pollution by offering products whose sole purpose is sonic aggression, citizens need to stand up and actively boycott such stores.
But, even more important, the demand for this equipment needs to be squelched. Concerned parents and students as early as the middle school level as well as high school should organize in the model of MADD and those types of organizations and speak out against noise pollution.
In addition, Community Watch groups should look out for and report instances of sonic aggression to local police. Write down license plate numbers.
Finally, I think rap artists, rock stars, and other pop celebrities could do public service announcements speaking out against sonic aggression. If society can de-glamorize the ‘thug’ lifestyle, the problem of noise pollution could dissipate enormously.
But, it’s truly up to local communities to pay attention to this issue in order to deal with it effectively.
This has been a community service posting. Now back to the mundane political chatter more frequently found on this site…