Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
What is so wrong with the sound of silence?September 19, 2012 - 8:37am
There was a time when, as a mark of respect to a recently deceased footballer or personality, people at matches stood in silence and remembered him or her in happier times.
But no longer – now nothing less than a ‘spontaneous’ and sustained round of applause will suffice. So when did silence become obsolete?
Everything now has to be about noise – just look at the idiotic boy racers with their souped up rust buckets that you can hear two minutes before you can see.
In our time, you’d be embarrassed to go out in the car with a broken silencer, but now they do this on purpose.
New nightclubs have to be louder than the last one to open; headphones have to wrap in all of the sound so that you can go deaf quicker and without bothering anyone else.
Even our Olympic enthusiasts seemed to take almost as much pride in the record decibel levels at Katie Taylor’s medal-winning fight as they did in the victory itself.
Never mind that – like our international soccer fans – their tune of the hour was that old traditional Irish tune ‘Olé, Olé’; because this was proof once again that the ultimate super fans are those who simply make the most noise.
That said, we might be on the precipice of a return to relative silence – thanks to our old friend, the Queen, who turned up at the recent opening of the Paralympics with a pair of red ear plugs to curtail the racket.
This wasn’t just an old lady protecting what’s left of her hearing – it was a clear statement of intent, because if she simply wanted to discreetly turn down the volume, she’d have opted for more subtle, skin-tone coloured plugs.
Instead, she stuck in bright red tubes that could be seen from Curiosity, that NASA rover that’s currently touring around Mars.
And it’s not just noise amplified by sound systems that’s at the heart of this problem – you cannot hear yourself thinking on trains, in restaurants or in pubs because of all the bloody mobile phones.
If they’re not ringing to the theme tune of the Simpsons, there’s some fool roaring down the mouthpiece to his mate as though we’re still in the ear of two old bean cans tied together with a length of twine.
You can’t even make the short 30 second journey to the third floor on a lift without piped music, in case you’d be overcome by fear of deep thoughts brought on by the silence.
If a pub doesn’t have a blaring television showing extreme showjumping, there’s a stereo beating out some band banging dustbin lids together in the hope of having a hit album.
God be with the days when you went into a pub and loudest sound you’d hear was a door opening or some old guy slurping his pint – nowadays a quiet pub is a closed one.
Even libraries – once such a bastion of silence that you’d be thrown out for treading on creaky floor board – are now veritable cornucopias of cheery chat, with storytelling and internet access for all.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.