Photo credit: Darya Sannikova
by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies
Michael Moynihan, The Irish Examiner, asks “Why is it that noisy people show no consideration for others?” He believes that people too often inflict their noises on others in public settings. He cites as examples loud motorists, loud music playing, and the loud sounds accompanying a house extension. He then goes on to say that such intrusions have emotional and cognitive consequences such as feelings of aggression and irritability and an inability to concentrate.
Thus, what are people to do when others inflict their loud sounds on them, expressing a lack of consideration for others? Moynihan describes the reaction of a passenger on a London train who reacted to a person speaking too loudly on a mobile phone–he ended up biting the ear of the noisy passenger. After biting the man, we are told, the passenger went back to his seat. Moynihan then concludes that if one can’t feel “the satisfaction which accompanied that return to the seat, maybe you’re part of the problem.” Yet, is behaving badly to correct an inconsiderate action the way to go?
As someone who sits on the board of GrowNYC, who responds to New Yorkers who need assistance with noisy neighbors, some of the people who call me about the loud sounds coming from an upstairs neighbor want to retaliate by banging hard on the ceiling. Some have already done so, but the noise from above continues and is often accompanied by an exchange of harsh words between neighbors. To those who have not carried out the urge to strike back, I suggest they don’t and offer other ways to resolve the noise problem. To those who have fought noise with noise and received no success, I also suggest other ways to handle the situation.
While I agree with Moynihan that people who inflict their noises on others are inconsiderate, I do not believe we should attempt to halt their bad behavior by engaging in inappropriate behavior. I would suggest that we advocate for noise ordinances and bylaws aimed to halt loud vehicles traversing our roads, loud construction tools, loud music playing in apartments, etc.
While I would like to depend on the “kindness of strangers” as Blanche DuBois states in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” I believe we will need noise ordinances to limit noises in our environment. I would also hope that we advocate for consideration for others, not only in the area of noise, but in all our behaviors.