Local Businesses Want Me Back? Turn Down the Volume!!!!!


I have discussed the rising noise level at events, in restaurants and theatres many times over the last decade to no avail. I've pretty much given up and feel sad to my core at the amount of hearing loss this will contribute to in the future.  Yesterday things took a turn for the worse and I found myself stirred up again, so decided it was time for a new article.

It was my birthday. I am older and of an age I no longer want a big fancy celebration. If all my kids lived nearby, a family meal would be my first choice with everyone in the same room.  As they weren't, I wanted a low key day with a few fun distractions. 

In the morning I dove into my daily writing habit combined with a zoom writer's group.  Initially, I didn't know what to write, but the words seemed to just pour out of me. I ended up feeling accomplished and successful.  After a light lunch and some connecting with friends, it was time to head out for the day.  This is where things turned left. 

First was a stop was for my husband and I to pick up my oldest son and then we headed off to our local Silvercity Cineplex Theatre complex to see Avatar in 3D IMAX - the way it was meant to be seen. I adore animation and I loved the first movie, but was nervous as sequels so often don't live up to the first movie. This time it did. Avatar: The Way of Water had the same simple plot and themes running, but it was still stunningly beautiful. I was enthralled with the quality of the animation and the visual feast it offered. I honestly kept forgetting what I was seeing wasn't real.

The downside was the sound level. Sound levels have been rising continually in this theatre complex over the last few years to an uncomfortable level. I started bringing my earbuds to help. The others just smiled and let themselves be blasted all throughout, although they did sometimes mention the level after.  Already dealing with a small amount of age related hearing loss, I take sound levels very seriously.  I have emailed and written about the company, but never received any response or action.

Yesterday, from the moment the ads started, the sound was at a whole new level, way higher than ever before. It was phyically painful.  Looking around I noticed most people ignored the onslaught, but my son and husband finally found it intolerable as well. Seriously intolerable. My son had a set of ear plugs in his pocket and immediately put them in.  My husband was struggling with what to do until he found an old face mask in his pocket. He tore off pieces and rolled them into makeshift ear plugs. My simple ear buds were no longer sufficient, so I sat pushing them deeper into my ears with my fingers through the ads and at least half of the movie. 

IT WAS BEYOND LOUD! I wish I had a sound level app in my phone for proof, but I am 100% sure this was way over the legal limit established by the government. Those limits are in place to protect the public from hearing damage, the chance of which increases the longer the time you are exposed and unavoidable with repeated exposure  I found it ironic they showed a video thanking for people for coming to the movie theatre in person and supporting local businesses,  yet they didn't give a damn about the harm they were causing. 

From there we popped into a local Cactus Club. Lovely staff from the moment we walked in. They offered us their last table and treated us amazingly all night.  The food was good as well.  BUT again the sound level of the music playing was high. Not painfully high, but enough we had to really speak up to be heard by the waitress and by each other. We weren't just there for the food, we wanted to talk about the movie we had seen. More than once I had to repeat myself at a slower pace and higher volume.  Was the sound level within legal limits? I have no idea. If it was, it was near the top end.  

Want me to come out to support local businesses? Then create an environment I can enjoy with my family and friends. It has to be one we can hear each other talk, or enjoy watching - a movie/play/concert - without pain and damage to our hearing. I continue to go out less and write off any place I find too loud. I have walked out of events, or sat with my fingers or tissues in my ears in protest if it was inappropriate to walk out. However,  I always think twice about attending again. And I worry for those around me who accept it without thought. 

There you have it, pure and simple. I am happy to come out in support, but no longer willing to be subjected to inappropriate, interfering and possibly damaging sound levels. Your choice. I suggest all business owners and event producers know the law and what is considered safe and make sure your event complies. I am also installing a sound level app on my cell phone and going to start keeping track. Time to back up my opinion with some facts. 

I love the cover of this FREE PDF comic book on this issue. You can view or download a copy of it HERE!

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From the Hearing Health Foundation -

Hearing loss from too much noise is the biggest public health threat most people don’t know about. The World Health Organization calls noise-induced hearing loss a potential global health emergency affecting 1.1 billion teens and young adults. Among young people ages 12 to 34, BMJ Global Health estimates that this is half the population that is at risk of permanent hearing loss from excess noise. Up to 1 in 4 U.S. adults ages 20 to 69 already shows signs of hearing loss due to damaging noise exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.