Is asking someone to turn their headphone music down a bad idea?
May 20, 2012 9:42 AM   Subscribe

You're on a crowded bus, street car or subway. Someone has on headphones with the music so loud that you, and everyone in a 7-foot radius can hear it. Do you politely ask that person to turn their music down?

The other morning a fellow tenant and I squeezed ourselves onto a crowded streetcar, and I'm standing next to him and I can clearly hear the music that's blaring through his headphones. So can about 8 people standing next to him.

I wouldn't say I nearly did it, but I did consider just tapping him on the shoulder and asking him politely if he would mind turning it down a little because it's quite loud.

Is this a terrible idea? Would the answer change if he wasn't a fellow tenant (lives above my flat)?

I tried to be very unbiased about the description of the situation, but I'll let my feelings show now: I really hate people that do this sort of thing. I think they're rude and selfish.
posted by althanis to Human Relations (53 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wouldn't ask anyone else to turn down the music they're listening to through headphones, because I'd be thinking "maybe s/he just really needs it to be that loud right now, for whatever reason." I would just put on my own headphones if it bothered me that much.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:54 AM on May 20, 2012


Several months ago, someone got into the elevator I was on, and immediately continued a very loud (on both ends) conversation that was, from the content, obviously with a person in the apartment she had just left...... I politely asked her to lower the volume, she called me a bitch and managed to talk even louder plus turn up her phone even louder.

So --- standing there in the elevator with her, remember --- I broke into an enthusiatic rendition of "Star Spangled Banner" at the top of my lungs. The loud person looked at me like I was insane and started calling me rude names for interrupting her phone call, so I invited her to join me in a chorus.

Or in other words: if the person with headphones is THAT loud, yes I would ask nicely.
posted by easily confused at 9:54 AM on May 20, 2012 [36 favorites]


Do you know his name? Like, are you friends? Now that the situation has passed, I recommend mentioning it to him casually when you see him next (i.e.,) NOT in that situation.

If I were a braver person, I'd have tapped him on the shoulder and just "could you please turn it down a little bit?" This is the assertive (respecting his rights while advocating for your own) thing to do. You know, calm tone of voice, making appropriate eye contact, etc.

(Assertiveness is my #1 personal growth area at the moment, FYI. I stink at this.)
posted by SMPA at 9:55 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I tried to be very unbiased about the description of the situation, but I'll let my feelings show now: I really hate people that do this sort of thing. I think they're rude and selfish.

I share your point of view. However, consider that the sort of person you see doing this is often the sort of person that is just spoiling for a fight and is signaling aggression by doing everything possible (loud music, sprawling over multiple subway seats, eating messily, smoking, whatever) to seize public space for their private use.

Basically, you have to weigh the momentary irritation against the possible irritation of being late to work because you had to spend 5 minutes trading punches with some asshole that has nothing better to do than irritate other people and be a macho jerk.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:55 AM on May 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I get annoyed with that too but ultimately have decided it's just not worth it. My future stepfather-in-law has profound hearing loss and often wears headphones turned up SO LOUD. I figure, maybe these people have some hearing loss?

Now, if this was on an airplane I might say something.
posted by pintapicasso at 9:59 AM on May 20, 2012


Does it equally bother you when a firetruck drives by? When someone goes into a noisy coughing/sneezing fit?

Part of living in an urban area (assuming you are, if you and lots of other people are sharing public transit together) is that there are gonna be noises sometimes. Part of living together closely compacted means having to accept that sometimes you're gonna have to hear someone's cell phone conversation, or someones music leaking from their headphones. Sorry. That's life.

Also, you ask someone to turn it down when there is music blaring from loud speakers and it's actually effecting your ability to hear things, like a restaurant playing music too loudly for example. Little treble-y earphone music? Please, you're looking for an excuse to confront someone at that point.
posted by windbox at 10:01 AM on May 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


If it's bothering you enough to put you in a bad mood, go for it. Sometimes people need a reminder to be polite. HOWEVER, I wouldn't do this with another tenant you know. If he/she is the kind of person that's asking for a fight, they might take it further and you'll end up with annoyances at home.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:01 AM on May 20, 2012


I've been That Person With The Loud Music (not on purpose), and I wouldn't say I've ever felt like I'm "spoiling for a fight". Just politely get their attention and ask - it's likely they don't know how loud they're actually being because, well, they've got headphones on to listen to their music.
posted by wanderingmind at 10:03 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you do you can phrase it as a friendly query about whether he knows that he doesn't have sound proof earphones. I know I sometimes listen to the odd tune that I'd be mortified if it were blaring out to the word, especially if I have it on repeat, so I'd be glad to know if it were broadcasting all over the place.

Windbox, I think in these cases it's not so much for me that I can't deal with urban noise, more that I am not sure why people want to impose noise that they can easily keep lower and not really suffer much. Firetrucks and ambulances actually need that noise: they're not doing it for the giggles of the thing.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:06 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any time I have asked someone who is doing something rude or insensitive in public to maybe tone down that behaviour it has not really gone well. Generally they have shown even more of that behaviour.

i think it's a bad idea unless you want them harassing you directly with their words.
posted by miles1972 at 10:08 AM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wouldn't do anything especially if it were a short bus ride.
posted by discopolo at 10:15 AM on May 20, 2012


"I really hate people that do this sort of thing. I think they're rude and selfish."

Like other people in this thread have already said, I do this all the time by accident and have been asked to turn it down. I didn't mind, and was actually thankful that they told me.
posted by azarbayejani at 10:18 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am, frankly, losing my hearing. It's not bad enough to require hearing aids, but I know some day I will.

I wear foam rubber earplugs on the train. Every day, over the noise of the train, behind the earplugs, I hear people's headphones so loudly that I can identify what they are listening to. I really hate it because it's annoying and I just know that they are damaging their hearing too.

I hardly ever confront anyone on the train, because you never know whether they are going to turn the music down or pull out an Uzi. If it is someone you know, it might be different, because at least they know you are not saying something just to mess with them.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 10:18 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always wanted to start lip-synching and boogying along in the line of sight of people with leaky headphones and loud music I recognise. One day I will. I bet it'd be a laugh and a bit surreal for them as well as a good-natured wake-up call.

Back when I had crappier headphones myself and didn't realise how loud I had them playing/how badly they leaked sound, I had someone tap me on the shoulder once and say they were distractingly loud. (I was in a the study area of a library.) I was appropriately penitent. That said, it *was* a library. On public transport I wouldn't say anything to someone myself. Signs and sounds of other people are just the nature of the beast. You don't know what the reaction would be, so better not to risk it.
posted by springbound at 10:22 AM on May 20, 2012


It annoyed me too when I used to take trains and buses. Then I realized that people talking bothered me. Essentially it's the same thing in my opinion. I wouldn't ask people to whisper or stop talking.
posted by KogeLiz at 10:26 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


As one who worries that other people can hear my music, I'd really appreciate it if someone near me let me know it was a problem. I might feel embarrassed in the moment, but I'd prefer that to being seen as rude and selfish.
posted by worldswalker at 10:28 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whenever I, or someone else I've observed, has tried to do this it hasn't gone well.

Single caveat: a good friend of mine who is gigantic and manages to come off as super-duper friendly once walked over to a kid who was playing his music on his phone without benefit of earphones (that's how we do it on BART, yo) and asked him to put headphones on or turn the music off. Kid looked up, saw my buddy who looks like the friendliest bouncer you wouldn't ever want to cross, and pulled back the smart-ass comment you could see preparing and said, "Whatever, man." And turned off the music.

I think that was enlightened self-interest winning out over innate rudeness, personally.
posted by arnicae at 10:32 AM on May 20, 2012


I leave them be. They're going to have enough problems later in life with loss of hearing...
posted by cecic at 10:33 AM on May 20, 2012


I used to encounter these people a lot and get really irritated. I'd sit there and give them dirty looks, and want to shout, "Hey Dave Matthews, the whole train doesn't want to listen to your damn music! Grarr!" But I've come to the conclusion that most people who have their music up this loud really have no idea everyone else can hear it. Knowing this, you can fault them for being ignorant of their actions and/or oblivious to the world around them, but it's really not an issue of them being rude and selfish. Therefore, I think it's reasonable to politely ask people to turn down their music. There's a chance they actually are a jerk and refuse, but that's life. Think of it like, if you're on a crowded train and someone is completely engrossed in their book with their bag on the seat next to them, it's reasonable to ask them to move their bag so you can sit. But if you're on a train with someone eating a bag of pistachios and throwing all the shells on the floor, THAT person's a jerk, and nothing you say to them is going to have any impact.
posted by gueneverey at 10:48 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those are the moments of group bonding for everyone else on the public transportation system as you all make eye-rolling contact and shoot furtive glares at the loud person. I tend to think of it as just one of those Things that happen because people are frequently insensitive, but unless it's very loud, I leave it alone. If it is very loud and I am close to the music listener and can catch their eye, I smile apologetically and ask them to turn the sound down a little. I've never been threatened in response, or anything, but I'm not very intimidating.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:52 AM on May 20, 2012


You don't get to control public space. Sometimes people are going to make noise, and frankly, wee tinny out-the-back-of-headphones noise is totally not something you have a right to control, especially if you are standing right next to them. Would you tell people on the bus to shut up if they were talking to a fellow passenger? If they had a grumbly baby? If their grocery bags were rustling too much for your comfort?

High density living. It's noisy sometimes. If it bugs you that much, get some headphones of your own.
posted by Jilder at 10:55 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Okay. Passive/passive aggressive Sarah has appeared.

Stick this under his door (you know where he lives, after all,) with item #5 highlighted. Perhaps add this image.

(And hey: high density doesn't necessarily imply "I do what I want and you learn to suffer" - some highly dense cultures insist that the onus is on you to go out of your way not to get in someone else's space with, e.g., your noise.)
posted by SMPA at 11:11 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


They're wearing headphones! They're actually trying to be polite. Compared with the people who play music on their phone or even boom-boxes (they're making a comeback it seems) or even worse, rap loudly to the entire bus, they are saints. A little bleedthrough is not a reason to censure them. You must ride very different public transportation than I do to even notice it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:12 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a public space. Unless the activity is illegal, or might potentially cause imminent harm to others, it's best to treat it as the price you pay for living in peace. People talk - that offends some. Some people are offended by foreign languages (yes, I've seen it here in LA!). Some are offended by gay people talking. Some are offended by hearing music - unless the music is causing YOU hearing loss, or preventing you from hearing the buss driver or stop announcements, live and let live. There are bigger potential issues - what of those who are allergic to certain strong smells, and someone has a ton of fragrances on their body? What of the unwashed mentally ill homeless person who has such a strong smell that you are on the verge of vomiting as they squeeze onto the seat next to you? Little tinny sounds from a headphone?? Please. Live and let live, unless it's a public hazard.
posted by VikingSword at 11:13 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and PS, if you stuck a note under the door to inform me that the music from my headphones was bothering you on the bus, I would think you were a raving lunatic.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:14 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've had some good results by just saying to people that excuse me, you may not know it, but I think you put your phone on speaker by accident.

Let's people turn down the volume without losing face.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:15 AM on May 20, 2012


pintapicasso: "I get annoyed with that too but ultimately have decided it's just not worth it. My future stepfather-in-law has profound hearing loss and often wears headphones turned up SO LOUD. I figure, maybe these people have some hearing loss?

Now, if this was on an airplane I might say something.
"

If they don't have hearing loss already, they will in due course.

I would say something if there was no way for me to avoid it. Could I move to the other end of the subway car? Could I change seats? Am I stuck next to this really loud music? To me, it is situational. It also depends on a quick assessment of the level of aggression I will get back.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:23 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Something no one else seems to have picked up on is that I think it's a really bad idea to touch people uninvited (eg tap them on the shoulder), especially if they might be lost in their own world. I can see how having a stranger startle you like that could be potentially triggering to some people, or come across as aggressive.

If there was some other nonverbal way to convey to the person that their music was loud I might try to do that, in case they didn't realise, but I wouldn't feel entitled to ask them to turn their music down, as I don't really feel I can demand that amount of control over a public space.
posted by ninjablob at 11:27 AM on May 20, 2012


I once threw a question out to users of the London Underground on Twitter, asking if anyone had ever asked a fellow passenger to turn their music down, and what had happened. I heard from several people who had done it, and all of them had got insults in return, if not physical threats. Of course, things may be different where you live. (Where Americans got the idea that the British are polite, I have no idea.)
posted by Perodicticus potto at 11:29 AM on May 20, 2012


I occasionally wonder if people can hear my music through my headphones. If someone were to tap me on the shoulder & say, "I love that song!" I would be mortified* and immediately turn down the volume, making a mental note that the previous volume setting was too high and that the nice lady/gentleman was so very polite when I was sure they wanted to throttle me. I also like the suggestion from MartinWisse (re: speaker setting), although that would probably lead to me being paranoid that I didn't know my phone *had* a speaker setting, never mind how to turn it off.


* Not solely because I often listen to cheesy 80s Britpop. But... well, mainly because of that.
posted by pammeke at 11:29 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, meant to add: if someone were to straight-up ask me to turn it down, and I was having a bad morning, I might feel rather grumpy in addition to feeling embarrassed. Not sure if having a fellow tenant feel grumpy toward you is a concern of yours, however.
posted by pammeke at 11:34 AM on May 20, 2012


No. That person is nearly always prepared for a confrontation I'm not willing to have.
posted by theraflu at 11:42 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


You probably do some things that bother others without realizing it too. For example, the look on your face may drive other passengers nuts. You may chew too loudly or talk too loudly. Other people don't ask you to stop, do they?

If someone tapped me on the shoulder while I'm rocking out after work hell, they would ruin my ride. I'd make sure to ruin theirs too. I know it's not the right thing to do, but I would be surprised and not in a position to bite my tongue as I should.
posted by shushufindi at 11:47 AM on May 20, 2012


Most often I just say to myself "public life is loud, I'm going to deal with this annoying noise," but on the occasions I've actually asked someone to turn it down, they've done so politely. Sounds like other people have had different experiences, though.

As for the question of "Other people don't ask you to stop chewing too loudly or talking too loudly, do they?" I've had someone come up to me in a public place and tell me my friend and I were talking too loudly and bothering people. That was useful information to me, and we dialed it down. Was I supposed to have slugged her or something?
posted by escabeche at 12:21 PM on May 20, 2012


I've never asked someone to turn down the volume on their headphones, but I have been asked to turn down the volume on my headphones.

Simply my opinion (and apparently an unpopular one around here), but it's way more rude and aggressive to disturb someone by tapping them on the shoulder and asking them to turn the music down than it is to listen to leaky headphones.
posted by dogwalker at 12:44 PM on May 20, 2012


by "listen to leaky headphones" I mean wearing them.
posted by dogwalker at 12:53 PM on May 20, 2012


it's way more rude and aggressive to disturb someone by tapping them on the shoulder and asking them to turn the music down than it is to listen to leaky headphones.
Sometimes people need a reminder that they aren't the only people in the world. I think it's a matter of degree. If the sound travels only a foot or so (ie. just bothering you), and the rest of the car is terribly loud anyway, then whatever, don't bother the person. If you know them, you might inform them that their headphones are leaking a bit.

I think people here are talking about the highly treble leaky headphones the whole bus/car/plan can hear. I would classify that in either the inconsiderate, but usually clueless category[1]. It's not aggressive to ask someone to turn it down in that case.

[1] Hint for the entitled: Play the music a little bit with your headphones in your lap. If you can hear it clearly beyond just a bit of a tinny strumming, it's probably too damn loud.
posted by smidgen at 12:54 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing about public space is that it's public space. In my living room I play music as loud as I like--it's my living room. I also feel free to walk around naked and dripping wet, inform radio news presenters that they're pig-ignorant racists, and fart loudly (sometimes saying "Cor!" if it's a particularly impressive one). When I'm on the train to work I do none of these things. I bought myself some proper headphones when I started commuting regularly.

If you ask politely, most people actually turn the music down. Of them, about half will do so equally politely, often apologizing because they hadn't realized it was so loud--iPods often shift volume levels significantly from one track to another. The other half will do so to variously grudging degrees: they'll do it but give you a dirty look, that sort of thing. I can live with a dirty look. Sometimes they'll passive-agressive ask "Oh sorry is that TOO LOUD?", and if you smile, nod, and say, "Yes", then... they've backed themself into a bit of a corner (especially when other people nearby nod too).

The number of people who actually refuse--rather than turn it down, then back up thirty seconds later--is minimal. Most people realize that if their response to a polite request is FUCK YOU MAN THIS IS THE BEE-GEES AIN'T NO-ONE GONNA INFRINGE MY FREEDOM then... they're going to look like arseholes. Much more likely that they'll just blank you, in which case, okay, you tried, leave it at that and grit your teeth. But I've never found myself in an actual confrontation (because "Excuse me, would you mind turning your music down a bit please? It's quite loud. Thanks" is not terribly confrontational). More often, someone else sitting nearby has turned and thanked me.

Now--I'm just going to turn up the Bee-Gees and fart loudly. "Cor!"
posted by lapsangsouchong at 1:09 PM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


You're in Toronto, I take it? As a fellow Torontonian who commutes by subway to work everyday (it's a reverse commute, so I don't squeeze on into sardine conditions), there will be someone every few days or so blasting their music so loud in their earphones that it is annoying. So there's enough space for me to move if I want to. I've never asked anyone to turn down their music so I don't speak from experience, but I have thought about doing it. It seems that most commenters here who haven't done it seem afraid to do it, for fear of repercussion and that thought has never crossed my mind. Maybe because I believe that Torontonians are a nice bunch? If I were to do it, I would do it with an apologetic look, rather than a look of annoyance. To answer your question, I don't think it's a bad idea to ask the guy to turn down his music next time you're in this situation, unless your read of him is that he'll respond aggressively. In other words, what's stopping you from asking him to turn down his music? What, if any, are your fears about doing so?
posted by foxjacket at 1:15 PM on May 20, 2012


I'd make a distinction between urban public transportation (subways, city buses, street cars, commuter train) versus long-range public transportation (planes, intercity trains, intercity buses). If it's the former I figure it's just one of those little indignities you come to expect, but no biggie because it's only for 20 minutes or whatever. But if I've paid more than, say, $10 for my ticket and/or I'm going to be stuck near you for more than an hour, then yeah, screw you, bud, turn it down.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:17 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I live in a city. I would never ask someone to turn down their music on the subway/bus/streetcar. Them listening to music on headphones is better than playing it louder not on headphones, better than the kid on the bus playing Angry Birds with the sounds on, and less rude than a lot of the things people do in cities in general. When I listen to music on headphones I don't play it loud, but if I did and somebody asked me to turn it down on the subway, I would find it to be rude and presumptuous of that person.

Though, on suburban transit, on Amtrak, or on long-distance buses I feel that it would be okay to ask someone to turn the music down.
posted by aaanastasia at 1:38 PM on May 20, 2012


I think it's a function of how long you must endure it, whether there are steps you can yourself take to mitigate its effect on you, and the extent to which you can objectively determine how obnoxious it is.

I have never asked people to turn down the music on their headphones even when it's bothered me because I've always found that I can put in my own, step away, or that the situation won't last long. On the other hand, I have asked people to lower their voices when having cell phone conversations in similar circumstances.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:53 PM on May 20, 2012


I ride the Los Angeles subway where there is a rule (and $250 fine) for playing audible music on the train. There's a guy who rides it everyday with "leaky"headphones and I used to ask him to turn it down, do the "get in his line of sight and dance" or "tap on the shoulder, tell him I like that song and start singing along." None of them made him turn down his music, but he now avoids me and my car on the subway, so I count it as a win.
posted by holyrood at 2:42 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is the noise louder than someone having a conversation next to you? Even someone having a loud conversation? Cause people have every right to do that if they want, so I'm not sure you really have the right to single out a particular *type* of noise you don't like. It's a public space, a certain amount of noise is expected and acceptable.

I, too, get frustrated by noise on the train (go to Japan sometime, there is a huge stigma against making any noise on the train, bliss!), but I get frustrated by a lot of shit people have every reasonable right to do.

Additionally, people might just tell you to piss off, which is why I never bother even when people are playing music out of their mobile phone speakers.
posted by smoke at 3:41 PM on May 20, 2012


In my experience, the type of person who will knowingly play their music too loud in a public space is not the type of person who receives your complains well.
posted by tegna56 at 5:25 PM on May 20, 2012


Okay, strangely since posting on this thread, I was yelled by someone wearing headphones. I needed to get his attention for something important, and he bugged out at me. It sucked.

I just want to say how much of this all depends on context. As I said before, if someone tapped my shoulder and told me to turn down my music when I'm on the train, I'd bug out. This is because I'm only on for two stops, and it's a packed train full of people listening to music and doing all sorts of other loud stuff. To single me out in all of this, you'd have to looking to pick on someone.

If I was on a commuter train for an hour, sitting with people who are reading quietly, and my music irritated them, I'd want to know. Same thing if I were on Amtrak, or a train in Japan.

Context is everything.
posted by shushufindi at 5:32 PM on May 20, 2012


Because civic emergencies and uncontrollable physical response are exactly the same as wrapping a goddamned boombox around your head in an enclosed space, because fuck you all, you're damn well gonna listen to what I'm listening to

I think the point was the urban spaces are full of noises, whatever the cause.

Like people above have said, the sound of folks on the subway talking or laughing is probably louder than music emanating from headphones, yet we do not ask people to talk quietly on a train. (unless we're in Japan). So why no headphone music?

I'm not saying it's wrong to be bothered by it or that we should never ask others to turn it down. But I think there's a relative level of noise that's acceptable in different situations and places, and we should keep that in mind too.
posted by bearette at 7:49 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I think there's a relative level of noise that's acceptable in different situations and places, and we should keep that in mind too.

1) There's a difference between "the headphones are a bit leaky" (background) and "every word is coming through" or "I can feel the vibrations all the way over here." Pretty sure OP is asking about the latter.

2) Muffled headphone music has a rather awful tonal quality. Human voices don't. Emergency vehicles do, but for a specific and necessary purpose. Personally, overly loud (but muffled) music gives me a headache because of the nails on a chalkboard kind of tone it has. Ambulances don't because the noise is so brief.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:11 PM on May 20, 2012


This kind of situation is precisely why I wear headphones myself in pretty much every public space I'm in. I used to listen to my headphones too loudly, and I've noticed a marked change in my hearing, so I'll zero in on sound coming from someone's headphones without being able to keep track of the conversation I'm having.

So I wear my in-ear headphones, on the lowest possible setting. It blocks out most, if not all, of the random noise around me that would make it impossible to ignore otherwise.

In other words, if it bothers you this much, get some decent earphones and move on with your life. At best, the person apologizes to you for being a jerk. At worst, physical confrontation, and all that goes with that. Honestly, I don't see that it's worth the risk.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:50 PM on May 20, 2012


My feeling is echoed by certain posters above: it's just a part of urban living. When I'm on the train I put my headphones on to block out noises that I find annoying such as crying babies, loud conversations, etc. I wouldn't ask them to keep it down. I mean, I guess if it's really bothering you you could ask the person (nicely) to lower the noise a little, but even if it is very loud, the only person whose hearing is possibly being damaged is the person who's got the headphones on, right? I find it difficult to believe that noise leaking from someone's headphones would reach public nuisance levels of noise.

I do, however, feel strongly about noisy neighbours, and I have gone over and knocked on people's doors at midnight or 1am when the noise or music has gotten too loud. I usually assume that most people mean well and will be mortified to realise they're being a nuisance to other people, and have never felt the need to be a jerk about it.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:23 AM on May 21, 2012


Sometimes when I'm riding on the subway I am astounded by how loud some earphones and especially earbuds can get. I've never confronted anyone about it because if they are playing their earbuds/headphones that loud I don't see how they would be able to hear me, music on not. You can just smile when this happens because you won't be deaf later.
posted by fuq at 6:25 AM on May 21, 2012


I also agree with everyone who says its part of urban living. Like Ziggy500, I put on my headphones so I don't have to listen to anyone else on public transport. If you don't like hearing the noise, maybe you should wear earplugs or headphones.

As for being at home, that's a different story. If someone is playing loud music after hours (which I would define as 10pm on a week night and 11 or 12 on a weekend), you have every right to go ask them-- NICELY-- to turn their music down. Your apartment is not public space, and you have every right to ask them to turn it down a bit.
posted by emilynoa at 6:52 AM on May 21, 2012


IMO, if I can hear someone else's music coming out through their headphones when I myself am wearing noise-isolating headphones, their stuff is too damn loud. And in those situations -- that is, those where I am ALREADY making every attempt to deal with the problem through applying my own personal noise-blocking means -- I figure it's perfectly polite to at least let the noisemaker know that their headphones are leaking.

That said, my experience with actually trying to get people to turn the volume down has matched that of others in the thread, inasmuch as it has never proven effective. Generally I either get told flat-out "no" (as in, "no, I won't turn the volume down, f%$# off!") or ignored.

Thus I've been tending more and more toward just bolstering the structural integrity of my own Cone of Silence -- e.g., bringing not just my headphones and my own music, but utilizing white-noise-generating ipod apps and various types of earplugs. There are a lot of noises on transit I can't stand (doubly so because I have hyperacuasis) but I do accept that other people and their various sounds are an inevitable part of taking transit -- and since driving is not an option for me I've just had to get creative.

E.g., sometimes the only thing that works is a combination of "nature sounds" through my earbuds + silicone earplugs wrapped around the outside of the earbuds. In that case of course I can't hear any bus announcements, but I've been able to get around that by relying on visual cues and memorization of stop sequences. YMMV but all of this has been much more effective than confronting noise-polluters ever was, seeing as the goal is for me to have a less painful ride, not for me to "win" a dispute over someone else's volume levels.
posted by aecorwin at 11:08 AM on May 21, 2012


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