Turn down the volume please

September 07, 2019

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Illustration by Sophia Khan
Illustration by Sophia Khan

Arshad came out of his room angrily, slamming the door behind him. He glared at his siblings who were watching television and yelled at them, “Can’t you people turn down the volume? How can I study when you all are creating such a din?”

Daddy, who was trying to read a book despite the disturbance, looked up at his eldest with a thoughtful look, “Son, you know very well that your mother has gone to bed with a splitting headache. You are complaining about the high volume of the television, but do you realise how you must have disturbed Mummy by slamming the door and shouting at the top of your voice? Please learn to practice what you preach.”

practice what you preach.”

My friends, please do not feel that I am accusing you, but I feel that somehow our young generation has lost the sense of what should be the volume of their voice according to the demands of different situations, particularly when you are interacting with elderly people. Let me explain with examples so that the message I am trying to convey gets through!

Suppose you have gone to visit an ailing relative or a friend. If you speak in a loud tone and keep on talking unnecessarily, you will prove to be a nuisance to the sick person and cause discomfort to him. This, you must realise is definitely not the purpose of your visit. If you enquire softly about, how the sick person is feeling and utter a few reassuring words, your visit will become a source of pleasure for him.

In the same way, when you make noise in a mosque or any other place of worship, you are showing disrespect to the sanctity of the place. Without realising your fault, you are destroying the peace of those who are praying, supplicating or reading the Holy Scripture. You are bound to be reprimanded or the people in these places may complain to the elder who is accompanying you and cause him embarrassment at your rowdiness.

People who live in small houses or apartments often come to parks to have a breath of fresh air or to relax in the greenery. It is definitely your right to play in the park and it is natural for children to be noisy while playing a game. But here one should take care to stay away from those who want some quiet moments and are sitting on a bench or talking a leisurely walk. A section of the park can always be found where one can play freely without disturbing the peace of other visitors and the serenity of the park.

In schools, as soon as a teacher walks out of a class, a hubbub is created by students. In the short interval between two periods, students often start talking loudly or cracking jokes, instead of preparing for the next period. A loud bang on the table by the incoming teacher or simply a glare by a strict professor, immediately changes this din into pin drop silence.

It should be understand that a classroom is not a place to talk loudly with friends. Instead of making an unnecessary din, students should value every moment of their school time. Shouting and laughing can wait till the lunch break or when the school hours are over.

At times, without realising it, children hurt the feelings of their elders by their noisiness. A grandmother who prefers to remain anonymous says, “As a young girl, a basic lesson my parents taught me was to be quite when an elder person entered the room or when grown-ups were in a discussion. Volumes of radios or the television were instantly turned down and we greeted the entering person politely.”

Illustration by Sophia Khan
Illustration by Sophia Khan

She continued in a sad tone, “But nowadays, my grandchildren more often than not, ignore me when I want to spend some time with them. They keep on chatting noisily or watching television/listening to music on a high volume. I don’t know whether I should blame them or their parents for this rowdiness, or should I call it lack of respect?”

By now, I am sure most of my young readers must have understood how important it is to keep your voices under control and also lower the volume of the gadgets you use. Speaking in a soft tone and with full attention is also an important way to show our esteem to our elders.

To make my point clearer, allow me to ask you a question. Suppose you are given the choice to listen to one of the following group of sounds. Which would you choose?

The first consists of the gentle ripple of a spring flowing down a hill, the chirping of birds at dawn, the laughter of a happy child, the humming of your mum as she goes around her daily chores, the soft pitter patter of raindrops on your rooftop, breeze gently rustling through leaves in garden and the soothing sound of waves at the sea shore.

The second group consists of the blaring of horns during traffic at a mad rush hour, the roaring noise of the generator or an aircraft flying overhead, the deafening noise of machines in a factory, the frightening clap of thunder and rowdy children shouting at the top of their voices. I am sure all of you will choose the first group.

The reason is very obvious. The sounds in the first group soothe our nerves while the second group is unpleasant to our ears. The main point is to understand the difference between sound and noise. Soft sounds have the ability to soothe our nerves, but when they cross the comfort level, become irritating and unpleasant, they can be termed as noise. It all depends upon the volume of the sound.

We are living in an age of pollution. Mother Earth is being slowly destroyed by man-made efforts or inventions. We talk and read so much about water, air, food and so many other kinds of pollutions, but we seldom realise that unintentionally, we humans are creating another form of harmful effluence and that is noise pollution. Children, although unintentionally, play a big role in adding to the noise pollution. By nature, kids are full of life and love activities which make a lot of sound. We only have to realise that some types of noise pollution are beyond our control, but we must learn to turn down the volume wherever we possibly can.

Sometimes, I cannot help blame the parents for the kids’ noisiness. The new notion, “Do not reprimand children, or they will lose self-confidence” is totally ill-founded! Parents should know where to set limits for their children’s behaviour and teach them how to talk in different situations.

At times, it’s okay to be loud when you are joking and chatting in the company of your friends, but when you are with elders or in public places, you should know better. If you understand the basic difference between healthy sounds and unnecessary rowdiness, I am sure you will play an important role in making everyone you interact with comfortable and the environment more peaceful.

I am sure there are many among you who also enjoy calm and quiet atmosphere, and being in a noisy atmosphere for long gives you headache. You should also tell your peers who are very loud to speak in a moderate tone. More can be conveyed in a calm and moderate speech volume than by shouting and talking very loudly and fast.

Another thing that you notice that now most speakers give their speech and lectures in a balance tone, and they are very effective too. So if everyone tries to keep a moderate volume, this world would be such a calm and soothing place.

Published in Dawn, Young World, September 7th, 2019