A while back, I took a bus to the next town. Well, the driver did, I was just a passenger. As we moved off a young man sat next to me and decided to forcefully entertain all the passengers, but me in particular, by blaring some tinny drum beat ‘music’ out of the woeful speakers on his phone. My plans for a dreamy stare out of the window were put on hold as this awful noise assaulted my ears. This scenario has since repeated itself on a number of occasions, although of course sometimes it is just a conversation, where a witless numpty who has decided it is too much effort to lift a phone to their ear, puts their mobile on speakerphone and shouts at it for the entire duration of the journey.
With regard to that young phone DJ, it got me thinking what it is about human beings and their selfish need to impose their musical tastes on others. Hardly a day goes by when you don’t see a teenager loping along with music blasting out of their hand (via a phone), and in Spain I regret to say I have seen quite a few old gents doing this too now as they shuffle their tunes as well as their legs in an effort to keep fit. It is not as though they benefit from superior sound quality through this approach, indeed quite the opposite, so why do none of these people use headphones? It can only be the same primal urge that persuades young men in their first cars to open their windows and pump up the volume to prove that…. well, what does it prove? In the 1980s, you might want to show off a big sub-woofer you had just spent the weekend attaching to your parcel shelf. These days, almost all cars have decent speakers as standard so rocking the street in your standard issue Seat Ibiza isn’t going to impress anybody. But here’s the thing – when people look at you in your car because you are banging out what you think is a top tune nobody is impressed anyway. They are looking at you because they are thinking ‘prat’, not ‘legend’. So perhaps it is all about dominance. I’m a top dog, you lot are going to listen to my sounds whether you want to or not (that still doesn’t stop us all thinking you’re an idiot, mate).
At least with buskers, they are making their own sounds and a degree of skill is involved. Also, they tend to play more pleasant tunes as opposed to, say, drum and bass or heavy metal, because they want people to give them money, not poke them in the eye.
But people walking along the pavement wasting their batteries blaring out music because they are too lazy to put headphones on may as well be holding a big sign which says ‘I am a nuisance and a fool’ to complete the effect. On second thoughts, maybe you don’t need the sign.