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And that was a reunion
We've got this pretty much non-stop hanging-out-with-people thing going on while we're here -- Thursday my mom came up and we spent the afternoon and evening with her and a bit with my sibling (before sibling & sweetie swept off to swing dancing lessons), Friday friends from San Antonio came up, this afternoon we had lunch with sibling & sweetie & some of their friends followed by card games in a coffee shop, tomorrow afternoon another old friend of Andres' is coming by (and I am sneaking off to hang out with sibling and parrot some more), Monday lunch with another friend, Monday evening is Andres' dad's birthday stuff, and then it's Tuesday and we're going home.

All of this so far has been fun, and I am expecting the rest of it to be fun too.

Tonight was not fun.

This evening was Andres' 10th high school reunion (the reason we're here now, as opposed to some other time this summer). They had it up at the Oasis, which is this big restaurant on Lake Travis. The first part was okay; kind of boring, but I was expecting that, seeing as I don't know any of these people. But I can go around and smile and chime in on the answers to those of the typical questions that are directed at both of us, and listen to Andres talk about his job and stuff, and meet new people, and that is all mildly interesting. And the sunset was pretty.

And then they turned the music on, and it became Too Loud. Every half-hour or so, they'd turn it up louder. We ate (the only vegetarian thing they had was chips... I want to go home now, where restaurants can usually feed me) in the quietest part of the room, and then I fled to a chair outside while Andres finished off his socializing. I found a book about the restaurant's architect on a table out there, so I flipped through that while the music got louder and louder and louder and very, very drunk people from the other party downstairs came up to use the restroom. This worked okay until about the last half-hour, when the reunion folks made speeches and things from the deeply over-amplified sound system and then played more music at volumes which were Way Too Loud even out where I was, and a couple of the very, very drunk people from downstairs decided that I was clearly not having enough fun and needed to be cheered up by being flirted with. The first half of their supposition was true.

I have at least progressed to the point where I can recognize when the fundamental problem is Too Loud; it's taken a while to see that coming before it's gotten me to the state where I can't even figure out how to escape it. I even took appropriate measures by leaving, but it looks like now I have to learn to leave further away. I have a cell phone. I can do that.

But it distresses me when that's a problem, because I feel like it shouldn't be. I mean, first, why in hell do they turn music up like that? At concerts, where people are there to listen to the music, they turn it up so loud that people have to wear earplugs, which seems to me to completely defeat the purpose of the whole event. At this event, where the whole point is for people who haven't seen each other in ages to talk to each other, they turn it up so loudly that the people can't hear each other talk, which isn't helpful. Second, why can't I deal with the noise? Other people don't seem bothered by it; I mean, they complain because they have to wear earplugs and can't hear each other, but they don't generally leave, and they hardly ever get reduced to little puddles of immobile unhappiness (although if I ever get good at predicting this and dealing with the effects promptly, I won't either, so that's probably mostly selection bias there). I just feel like such a killjoy, not being able to have a good time, or fake one, when there's noise like that. Everybody else seems to like it.

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That does sound deeply annoying, yeah.

I'm rather the same way with loud music, too. Part of it's that I'm not especially good at understanding people in the first place (see also, taking a while to grasp lyrics of songs, which I believe is a trait we share), but I don't think that's all of it. I wonder if it's related to introversion -- I suspect it is, on some levels.

Also, there may be matters of the fact that people's sensory organs differ a fair bit, too. Being on the far end of a distribution tends to result in weird annoyances -- for instance, a CRT set at 60Hz refresh is generally borderline painful for me to try to use for any length of time, whereas most people can't see the difference.

Part of it's that I'm not especially good at understanding people in the first place (see also, taking a while to grasp lyrics of songs, which I believe is a trait we share)

That's part of it, yeah; even before it gets to Too Loud, restaurants and suchlike enclosed gathering-places often have too much reflected conversation-noise for me to be able to hear anyone except the people right next to me, so I get left out of conversations an awful lot (or I irritate people by constantly asking "What?"; or both).

I wonder if it's related to introversion

Since it starts out being a fairly high level of effort to pay attention to people, the added effort to overcome the noise trips it over into not-worth-it territory? This is possible, but for me the noise thing seems to be a lot more of a sensory issue (and the yet-I-don't-leave is the psychological part). It kicks in even when I'm not talking to people, and if the noise is of such a level that it's not actually too loud to talk but it's still bothering me, talking can be distracting in helpful ways.

Yeah, I wasn't thinking of quite so much of an obvious link between it and the introversion that way; it kicks in for me too when I'm not talking to people.

For me, introversion seems to be linked to preferring calm surroundings, for a certain value of calm -- that is, I can focus on small things for a while without having to actively concentrate on them, and there's not a lot of sensory input having to be processed. Loud music -- unless I actively want the loud music and listening to it is entirely the only thing I'm doing other than maybe driving, and even then my loud is probably a good 10-20db below many people's -- forcibly grabs my attention unless I'm actively concentrating on something else.

And I think that's only a halfway-accurate handwave at what I'm trying to get at; "calm" isn't really the right word, but I can't think of a better one. I guess mostly what it is, is that loud music overloads some of the same sorts of things for me as too-many-people overloads.

I'm about as extraverted as a person can be, according to the definition used in the (actual) Meyers-Briggs test.

I despise loud environments. They hurt my ears and my body, and they have driven me to tears when I couldn't get out quickly enough.

Even regular NYC noise gets to me, but loud music is unbearable.

jeremy_m is the same way as you with Too Loud - he just cannot bear to be within range of anything that is above his noise threshold.

Me, I love loud music at concerts, I'm of the opinion that in that situation you should be able to *feel* the music as well as hear it (obviously I'm talking about rock type music here, it would be less appropriate for chamber music f'r instance). But the sort of gathering where you're there to talk to people it's just silly and I hate it.

One Christmas 'do' we went to a few years ago, during the initial gather/talk/socialise period the music was so loud that even I could barely tolerate it and it just got louder through the evening - even the PA for the speeches was set at ear-bleeding volume. J and I left before the end of the meal. It was utterly intolerable.

I can't hear people for conversation with lots of background noise either - restaurants with lots of hard echoey surfaces are hopeless.

I like feeling music too, but in appropriate surroundings (concert hall, my car, etc.) that kicks in at volumes well below those that hurt. It takes a lot to feel music if one is standing up, but transmitting those sound waves through nice solid objects one is in a fair amount of contact with is pretty effective.

Everyone else does not like it. Some of us complain and get tired of not being taken seriously, or we avoid certain venues, or we leave after a few minutes, or in rare instances, they actually turn the volume down because they didn't realize how annoying it was.

The most recent excuse in a cafe I told the music was too loud was "but there are some songs on this CD you won't be able to hear!" Fine. I didn't go there for the music, I went for a quick cup of coffee before taking the bus home.

I guess it would be more effective to complain to the people who have control over the volume. But that involves approaching the speakers....

Hey, are you planning on coming to denton at all while you're in Texas?

We have no car, so no. But I will totally let you know next time we are up that way (in advance, even!). And if you feel like making a road trip, we can take you out to dinner or something.

Unfortunately, I'm going to be busy all this next week and weekend. Let me know if you're ever in the DFW area though!

I have a set of these earplugs (well, actually a previous version that was available in a wide range of colors), that I always carry around in my backpack (OK, OK, sometimes in my ears instead) for times when they may be needed to cut the decibels without making it impossible to talk. They're OK, but I wonder if I could find some more advanced ones that would cut the decibels even more.

Anyway, sounds like strong earplugs plus some books of your own might have been the thing here!

I do carry sunglasses, for similar reasons, so I guess earplugs would be reasonable. I don't like the way they feel, though, and when I have used them in the past they either haven't cut the noise enough or have made it impossible to talk (sometimes both). But I haven't tried fancy ones like the ones you linked to, so maybe different kinds would be more comfortable or better at noise reduction without total isolation.

I hear you. (Barely, but still. *grins*) I wonder sometimes if they turn the music up that loud deliberately. Gloss over any sort of awkwardness for having had no contact with these people in any deliberate fashion in 10 years... by making it very, very difficult to communicate at all.
For the most part I avoid environments where I'm surrounded by noise, and will flee at speed if I find myself in one unexpectedly. Other people must not mind it too badly if they stay, but it's not for me.

That theory was floated. Personally, I suspect that all DJs have been deafened by previous turning-up-too-louds of the music; while this may explain the source of the problem, it does not provide any obvious method of solving it, so it's not the most useful explanation.

No, not everybody else. I am firmly in the camp that says the key word in the phrase "background music" is "background", and have left restaurants, cafes etc _after telling staff that their music is too loud_.

(I have particular problems with high-pitched sounds at any volume, let alone loud. Go go gadget hyperacusis.)

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