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The only phrase that makes this assessment now seem dated is the reference to the “half of us” who are plugged into digital listening devices, since it has become the case that those who are not plugged in constitute a steadily diminishing minority.
The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for NIHL [noise-induced hearing loss] to happen,” An example offered is that of “an MP3 player at maximum volume,” which produces sound rated at 105 decibels.
My fear is that their hearing may already have been impacted past the point of objectively understanding how loud their music is.
“Loudness” is a relative term, of course, and therein lies one crux of the problem.
In a society where people in restaurants wishing simply to converse with their tablemates must shout in order to be heard over the booming, bouncing, and totally inappropriate dance music being piped in to the room?
In such a situation, even the right of one to experience “quiet desperation” appears hopelessly endangered.