Can we PLEASE cut down the noise?

Soon after my family and I had moved to the USA, we noticed something which had registered with me only subconsciously during some of my former visits to the country: 

Americans seem to be much more tolerant of noise than Europeans (those that we know, anyway).

This can be seen in the following examples:

  • Highways cut right through residential areas.
  • The windows in the places we looked at before we found our current home are all quite shabby, you can hear the traffic from miles away (esp. from aforementioned highways)
  • The forced-air heating many places use makes a terrible racket – we had to turn it down in our bedroom because we couldn’t sleep.
  • Very many cars emit a loud beeping noise when backing up; I can understand the desire to have this in a trailer or truck that’s half a mile long, but in a pickup?

Needless to say, this is not the case in the places I lived at before we moved, so some adapting has been going on. Luckily, our kids seem to be very good at this; I don’t get the feeling that the noise is causing them to lose any sleep.

I would like to know though if anybody can come up with a good explanation for the above observation. I don’t think that American ears are inherently less sensitive than ours, so there must be a more complex answer …

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3 Responses to Can we PLEASE cut down the noise?

  1. Mike Duigou says:

    I’ve been meaning to blog about this topic for quite a long time as well. I find the US and especially the bay area to be irritatingly noisy. Noise pollution is pollution too! For me the biggest irritant is the pointless noise–loud car stereos, loud mufflers, loud motorcycles, loud bus brakes, loud BART, etc. Loud, loud, LOUD!
    There are some hopeful signs, quiet is "the new black" for computers and the silent trend seems to catching on for car owners as well with many hybrid drivers saying that would never switch back to conventional vehicles if only because they love the silence of their hybrids.
    It’s kind of creepy, but I still remember how quiet it was the night of September 11th, 2001 with no planes flying and the streets nearly empty. Being able to sit peacefully in the yard and relax with no TV news blaring after 12 hours of being glued to the tube really made me feel better. I could certainly use that tranquillity on a regular basis and it shouldn’t take a stunning tragedy to produce it.

  2. Sankaran says:

    Ha Ha…You should come to India. You’ll probably go deaf.

  3. Michael Schuster says:

    Sankaran: I can’t hear you, it’s so noisy! 😉

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