This article by Tim Kreider, Quiet Ones, struck a cord with me. A few excerpts:
…it seems significant that we don’t want things to be quiet, ever, anymore. Stores and restaurants have their ubiquitous Muzak or satellite radio; bars have anywhere between 1 and 17 TVs blaring…ads and 30-second news cycles play on screens in cabs, elevators and restrooms. Even some libraries, whose professional shushers were once celebrated in cartoon and sitcom, now have music and special segregated areas designated for “quiet study,” which is what a library used to be.
…People are louder, too. They complain at length and in detail about their divorces or gallbladders a foot away from you in restaurants. A dreaded Amtrak type is the passenger who commences prattling on her cellphone the instant she sits down and doesn’t hang up until she gets to her stop, unable to bear an undistracted instant in her own company. People practice rap lyrics on the bus or the subway, barking doggerel along with their iPods as though they were alone in the shower. Respecting shared public space is becoming as quaintly archaic as tipping your hat to a lady, now that the concept of public space is as nearly extinct as hats, and ladies. [Read more…]