I was assaulted yesterday at the gas station while attempting to fill the van without having to take out a payday loan.  Exiting into the biting wind, the blare of the outdoor televisions forced its way into my ears, alternately urging me to buy some product I know will kill me (and not even having the courtesy to taste good while doing so) and telling me everything I never wanted to know about “entertainment news.” 

Assault by car sound system happens less often in winter, thanks to closed windows, but there are still a few cars that rock not only their drivers’ worlds but mine as well.  Sometimes I hear a discernible tune, but often it’s only the primal beat of an avalanche of rocks being continuously rolled down a hill.  Composer Sisyphus?  In summer, it’s worse.  I embarrassed our younger daughter once by cranking a classical music station to ear-splitting levels, vying with the driver-next-door’s rock/rap, while staring innocently at the stopped traffic ahead of me.

Off-street is no safer.  Coffee shops play sound tracks which, even if I like them, are often too loud.  Stores play music (sometimes “music”) continuously (my trips to Hot Topic years ago with our younger daughter spring horribly to mind).  Theaters have pre-preview  trivia and ads, accompanied by overly-loud music.  Sports bars overlay the everyone-talking/screaming/laughing-at-the-same-time cacophony with the play-by-play-by-replay of the chosen game, making conversation often impossible, even if I’m able to get my husband’s attention away from the screens.  Even doctors’ and dentists’ offices have screens these days, dispensing health news and ads in a continuous prescription of sound and, despite the rumor of a law forbidding it, commercials on TV still sound much louder than the program, unless it’s halftime of the Super Bowl.

What happened to quiet?  Are we so afraid of our own thoughts?   Must we be “entertained” each waking moment of every single day, bombarded with constant advertisements?  No wonder people are stressed; there’s no mental downtime.  Too often even in the haven of our homes, the television or some other noise-producer is on constantly.  You may stop and smell the roses, but you’ll rarely be able to hear the bees buzzing around them.

  1. Sandra says:

    Great post Janet. One of my favourite rants too! I go to the gym two or three times a week, where I can guarantee I’ll be required to use my ears to listen to the radio, my eyes to watch the pictures on the television and my brain to make sense of the subtitles beneath the pictures. All I really want to do is to exercise and indulge in a bit of creative thinking for my next story, but sadly there’s seldom that opportunity these days.

    • First of all, shame on you. My heart was hurting thinking that you were hurting, as in actually having been assaulted. I reacted with “Oh no. Is she hurt? What happened… and all the usual worries and being upset. I know the title implied that to get the reader’s attention but you got it, and fast, and again, “Shame on you.”

      Then you write about corporate assault which is a relief and something we all live with and take for granted every day. The daily venue of being mentally scripted and molded by external free enterprise forces.

      Check out this web site:


      I subscribe to the magazine. There are no ads in it. It is relatively inexpensive and it is involved politically.

      Glad your okay. Try some ear plugs and call me in the morning.


      • Sorry, Randy, and thanks for the concern. At least I didn’t make you wait until the end to figure out I was OK. The only real assault likely to happen is if I give in to my desire to heave something heavy into the TV somewhere, but that’s unlikely to happen. I have been known to talk to the TV’s at the gas stations, though. 🙂

        I’ll check your link after breakfast. Have a quiet day.



    • At the gym, I think part of the theory, borne out by some studies, is that upbeat music helps people work out better? More easily? But too often it’s just more noise and with iPods, people can bring their own music or not. Libraries are one of the few bastions of silence left, although that’s not why I frequent them so often. 🙂

      May you have a quiet day today!


  2. oscarjamieson says:

    I’m in total agreement. You walk into someones home and they have the TV playing in another room for ‘company’. Afraid of our own thoughts is an under-statement. Great post!

    • Now when I see news on TV, not only are they talking, there’s the “tape” running below them, telling different stories. The brain can’t really process several things well and give any one of them careful thought. The Sesame-Street-short blips of words, accompanied by loud music or talk, haven’t done children any favors, either.


  3. There’s a supermarket near me that I’ve avoided ever since they installed small TVs where they stare you in the face while you wait in line. Stop trying to pre-program my brain – I can make up my own mind what to think about, thankyouverymuch.

  4. Reblogged this on Welcome to the forgOTTEN blog! and commented:
    Giving up something during Lent? How about noise, constant advertisements, and the unrelenting assaults of sound? Here’s a excellent post about that.

  5. I agree. You know, it’s interesting. Last night, the snow or the wind or an accident took out power just as I was heading to bed. Interesting was how quiet it all was without the furnace and the computer on (in the other room). I slept better. My son says the computers give off vibrations and radiations and that those bother him when he is resting…I am thinking I may need to look into this.

  6. Bumba says:

    Someone told me a couple of years ago how many advertisements we either see or hear each day. The number was several thousand a day: billboards, newspaper ads, pop-ups, TV!, radio, background music. If advertising didn’t work they wouldn’t pay for ads, so if you think you’re immune to it, you’re probably wrong.However, the advertisers must take into account that there is a certain small segment of the population that they won’t be able to reach. But those people are at the fringes and there aren’t too many of them (us).

    • During football season, there are sometimes some good commercials, but I rarely remember what they’re advertising, even though I remember the commercials. On the other hand, I remember jingles from radio ads when I was a child (must have been radio because we didn’t buy a TV until I was older.) Guess that makes me a fringe of some sort.

      • Bumba says:

        LSMFT Lucky Strikes mean fine tobacco! Don’t worry, They have ads for the fringe players too. Of course they’re sub-liminal, so we’d never know.

      • Everything you cook outdoors, cooks best in Reynolds Wrap. Man, oh man, smoke a Roi-tan. Head for the mountains of Busch beer. The oldies I remember, maybe because they were on the radio and the brand name was in the jingle usually. Now the ads are visual and may rarely mention the name out loud. Makes a difference.

  7. Great post, hubs and I have a 28 year ‘discussion ‘ that rears it’s ugly head every so often, he can not stand quiet…I, like you, escape to the library as the only ‘free’ zone anymore. I can go days without any noise (tv, music, etc) love my pen and paper and my actual books with bindings and pages with written words, seems there are those that have forgotten the old ways. Thank you for sharing your pet peeve!

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