The other day, Jim & I were hanging out at our friends’ house, just chatting for hours. I enjoy that. It’s so much better than going to a bar to hang out. I’d rather be at someone’s house, where the environment is controlled and comfortable.
However, they had music playing in the background, so I had to put extra effort into hearing what anyone said. The music was the same volume level as our voices.
I ignored it at first, but like so many things that annoy me, it grew larger and larger in my brain until I couldn’t ignore it. Since we’ve known these friends for years, I didn’t feel that weird about asking them to turn it down. Actually, I got up and found the remote and did it myself. No big deal.
A similar situation that irks me: In the car, when the driver has the music turned up loud then proceeds to try to have a conversation! It drives me nuts. (Punny!)
What is the point of turning music up so loud that I have to raise my voice to be heard, then struggle to hear other people talking? Why not just turn the music down? Isn’t it more important to hear our conversation than have background music?
This is a pet peeve of mine, and when it crossed my mind today, I felt quite confident that some of you reading this may share it! Well? Anyone??
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc
In my case it’s not always so much not hearing the conversation but getting very tired from the collective sound that is the worst part of this. One friend always has classical radio turned on low and it steals a some of my concentration and after a while I sometimes find myself speaking gibberish but it’s so much worse at another friend’s flat as they always put on pretty loud singer/songwriter/pop music when they have guests and I don’t see the point of it. After an hour I start taking refuge in the bathroom every now and then and I am always completely foggy when I leave their home. Having the music on in the background seems so important to them that I have not dared to ask if we could turn it down or skip the music altogheter.
Yes–it steals some of our concentration. That is a great way to put it!
You bring up a good point, Kelly; this situation always seems confrontational. People feel so personal about their tunes. I’m all for ambience in a social setting but the car is a tough one due to surrounding hostile noise. I mostly don’t like music roaring from another car!
Yes, agree that someone else’s music too loud can drive me nuts! Especially, when trying to have a conversation. My elderly In-Laws, listen to blasting news reports. This goes on all day. I have stopped going to visit them for any length of time. It’s just too depressing to hear all that negativity. What really, really drives me nuts is people debating things on TV really LOUD… These are usually things like “Who’s going to win the Super Bowl?” but BTW, it’s only August!! The show’s usually consist of 4 men yelling about something that they REAL have no way of knowing. Sportscasters seem to love to yell! I love the quite guys, like Al Michaels, who does his job, without yelling! My husband is a big sports fan, so I am subject to listening to this a lot. When I am in the kitchen cooking it really rattles me. I have started wearing my headphones and listening to music or a book or podcast, to stay in my own little bubble. It is working well for me. I would recommend other HSP to have their IPods loaded up with good vibes to tune out the negative and loud noises when they are feeling trapped.
Agree 100 per cent. Especially bad are the fitness classes I think. Students have earache, the tutor is loosing her voice but she won’t turn the volume down. Even when doing relaxing yoga next door I could hear that horrible music! And yes, I get extremely annoyed when forced to listen to somebody else’s music. Thanks for the post!
Getting into ones own little bubble as Joni put it is perfect for describing what I need to do when things get to loud. Recently I’ve been using ear plugs just to muffle the sounds some what at night. My difficulty doesn’t stem from music playing but from my 2 rambunctious boys that get really loud in the evening time which is the time I get real sensitive to sound. The ear plugs help me strike a balance and also help me from overreacting to the little things because I’m a raw nerve do to the sound. What is funny though with re: the whole background noise thing is that I do find that if I have the wrong sort of background noise on it can totally disrupt my and my highly sensitive boys equilibrium causing our anxiety to rise and for us to lose focus. It has been a science understanding which background noise works and then applying the appropriate volume.
I wish headphones or earplugs worked for me. Loud noise is the hardest thing I have to deal with as an HSP. I have expensive noise-cancelling headphones, but they are really only good for reducing (not eliminating) the constant low-pitched roar of an airplane; they don’t block out conversations or sudden noises. Playing my own music on them just makes it worse — I hear both the ambient noise and the music, and the clash exhausts me. If I turned it up loud enough to block the ambient noise, it would be so loud as to be physically painful (and probably damaging to my hearing).
I had to get custom-made earplugs because my ears are too small to wear the kind you can buy at the drugstore. They fit beautifully, but they don’t block out all noise. I wear them in the subway to protect my hearing, but I can still hear all the noises around me. If a noise is distracting me or interfering with my sleep, putting in the earplugs doesn’t help because I can still hear it, even though it’s quieter — and the earplugs make me feel stuffed up and uncomfortable.
I have stopped being quiet about excess noise (pun intended). If I am with someone who tries to have a conversation while the radio is playing, I ask them to turn it off and explain that I cannot follow what they are saying with the competing noise. I won’t go out to noisy restaurants or bars; I prefer to entertain my friends in my own apartment, where it’s quiet and peaceful.
My biggest pet peeve is “background” music. For me, music is always in the foreground; whether I like it or loathe it, I can’t ignore it and the effort to do so will tire me out faster than anything.
YES! What a great thought–“there is no such thing as background music; it is all the in foreground”.
I’m glad you were able to get some custom earplugs since that seems like the best option. Have you tried listening to white noise, like simplynoise.com? It is better at blocking out actual conversations than just noise-canceling headphones, imo. I was at a cafe once and the guy next to me clearly was sick and kept sniffing in a disgusting, snot-rattling way, so I turned up my white noise really loud in my headphones and it was amazing. 🙂
Hi, Kelly. I’ve tried white noise. It can block out other noises, but then I find the white noise annoying as well. I wish we could just all enjoy some silence!
I’ve always been bothered by background noise too. I’m glad there is a name for it-misophonia. I had custom made earplugs too but found them uncomfortable after a while. I quit going to this big, noisy church and joined a smaller quieter place and it’s MUCH better. I’m STILL struggling to find a job that doesn’t play that OBNOXIOUS dance/hip-hop ( or whatever it is) music in the background. I can TOTALLY relate to Karens comment, ” music is always in the foreground..I can’t ignore it..”. As if serving the public ( retail) isn’t exhausting enough ! I don’t like playing the radio/cd’s in my car either. I want to be FULLY aware of what’s going on around me. I’ve been keeping the TV off at home and that helps keep my mind focused and calm.
Thanks for your comment, Courtney. I can feel the frustration. I can’t believe your job plays music in the background! I don’t like wearing earphones or earplugs all the time, either. Sadly it seems like the only solution sometimes. Show this video to your bosses who insist on playing music!! https://www.facebook.com/HuffPostLifestyle/videos/10153543890481314/
I am so glad to have found this site! All my life people have called me “touchy,” or “selfish” or a “whiner.” They do not understand when a small thing like someone’s music leaking through their headphones, or a muffled tv through the wall can drive a person absolutely crazy! Even people whispering. As a matter of fact—-that is almost worse than them just talking. That “whispering” sound is like nails on a blackboard.
For me, I always have to have music ON! But, if I start to get stressed, I’ll start “miming” what I’m listening to.
What annoys me is when the speakers are being overpowered. I can handle some REALLY loud stuff (raves!!!) but as soon as those limiters start coming on…it can get me physically ill.
I even hissed and bared my teeth at the speakers as they were maxing out! Got some really weird looks, but at least I didn’t get so angry I lashed out!
Ugh! Yes! I’ll add to that…having multiple people’s sounds on at once. In my house (especially through this Covid situation, when we are all stuck at home), I often have 5 people in the house at a time. There have been times where my oldest and his girlfriend are playing a loud board game (think the popping noise of Trouble, or dice rolling, etc.), listening to music and loudly talking/laughing, while my husband has music on in the kitchen while banging around cooking/cleaning (because he’s awesome like that) and my youngest watching a show and playing a video game at the same time (then my little and husband get into volume wars because they can’t hear their stuff over the other’s). My house feels far too small during these times and I have no place of refuge in my home for just me.
Am I allowed to say it? The one thing that comes to mind when people just need to have the television or radio on and blasting away when they are not even watching the thing and then they have to raise their voice to speak over the thing. OK I will say it “Some people are Morons”. I’ll admit that I am sensitive at times and I find the noisy world exhausting. However, my mother who was a gentle and polite woman brought me up not to be boorish and loud and the television was moderate not full blast all the time. It’s my upbringing that makes me sensitive to sound. If I were a professional classical musician no one would query concerns about mega loud volume all the time.
One thing that did help me, especially with everyone purchasing booming sound bars or surround sound and not being able to set them up in a balanced fashion. A helpful solution is to have a look at the bass or loudness settings. Bass is low frequency and is omnidirectional it gets into and through everything, when it’s set too high then even all the softer voice females start to sound too tenor. Get your pals to turn off loudness or sneak into settings when they are out the room and drop the bass to half of whatever it is. Suddenly you’ll not feel so bone shaking when the sound comes out and the voices will sound clearer, and your friend will not keep turning things up to try and hear over their own booming bass.
Phew it feels good to get that out and not be so alone in all of this.