“What’s your favorite…?” are my least favorite questions because I rarely have a singular thing that I like to eat, listen to, etc. Why limit yourself? I like to keep my options varied. However, if the question allows me to pass ‘sleep’ as an answer, I allow it.
With that said…
One night several years ago, I was in bed doing what I do best – sleeping when I heard VERY loud beeping. Startled, I opened my eyes and raised my head to inspect my surroundings. The sound seemed to have come from the direction of my phone, but I was perplexed because I have never heard it ring that loud. Turns out, it was an emergency alert letting me know that there was a potential threat of flooding in my area. At that time, I lived on the second floor, about two miles away from the lake. If I was to be in any sort of flooding danger, it would mean that the whole world was…
fcked in trouble. If I remember correctly, it was not even raining at that point. (And no – I did not live in an area prone to hurricanes, etc.)
The first thing I did after dismissing the alert was to disable them entirely. My phone warned me that I would not be informed of any emergencies going forward, which might put my life at risk. I decided to take that risk because not only did the alert interrupt my sleep and freak me out, I believe that – if my heart was weaker – it would have been the cause of my death. That thing is LOUD and when you hear it in the dead of night…
Whether suffering from undiagnosed misophonia made this experience worse for me than for an average Joe, I am not sure.
A couple of weeks ago, while working, my phone emitted that loud beeping again. While it was still loud, my reaction to it was better as I was awake and dealing with conference calls, videos, and other audio input. This time, it was an amber alert. It breaks my heart to hear that a kid has been kidnapped. It breaks my heart, even more, knowing how often it happens. At first, I was confused as to why I got the alert in the first place and then I realized that it was a somewhat new phone. Off to disabling the alerts, I went.
On one hand, I felt guilty – what if, while I’m driving to the gym after work, I see the car described in the alert but do not get to save the kid inside because I did not get the alert. But on the other hand – I will not be able to save that kid if I were not alive myself.
As a kid, I liked to listen to loud music mainly because it seemed to be the only way to really enjoy it – that is what everyone did. While I like the music of my choice, I do not always like other people’s choices. I have encountered so many people listening to music on their headphones so loud that they might as well listen to it on speakerphone instead. Witnessing that made me mindful of others when I listen to music, and so I adjust the volume based on my surroundings.
There was a time in my life when I commuted a lot using public transportation and so I listened to music A LOT through earphones. These days, I do it very rarely as I can just listen to music the ‘regular’ way in my car or at home. Even at work.
What do emergency alerts and earphones have to do with one another?
There is a lawsuit against Apple because a kid suffered hearing damage due to an emergency alert noise while watching Netflix on his Airpods. When I read that, I shuddered thinking about those two alerts I have heard throughout my life. How loud must have it been through earphones?!
The parents that started the lawsuits reported an injury to their son’s eardrum and said he would need a hearing aid going forward. They are asking for $75,000 from Apple.
Surprisingly enough, I think that this is a low ask. People usually ask for millions for nothing. Having a hearing impairment for the rest of your life and who knows what other side effects pertaining to your inner ear pieces being damaged.
The lawsuit says that Apple’s product was either defective (allowed too loud a noise) or that it did not provide sufficient warning about the noise levels. Warning labels make me roll my eyes. They are either so ridiculous or just something we choose to ignore in order to use the product (yes, we can choke on our food, but does that mean we will starve?). So, I believe that placing a warning label on earphones will achieve nothing (other than protection from lawsuits for manufacturers) – people will still lose their hearing. Decreasing the possible volume on the (ear)phones? That is an interesting idea. However, what is loud to me might not be loud to you.
At the gym I go to, there are some instructors that insist on blasting the music louder than at a concert and then they proceed to yell their instructions on top of that. I have no idea how those that attend those classes stand it. You do not have to be in class to hear it! If the door to the classroom is open, you can hear the music and yelled instructions halfway across the gym. That is with the overhead music playing at the gym, people talking, and machines slamming. People look at me weirdly when I walk up and close the door. I feel like I am condemning the people inside to ear slaughter, but I am also saving the others that are outside, trying to do their own thing.
It is a good thing that someone will be looking at the volume levels of the emergency alerts, but I feel like that should be addressed differently. I think that problem should be brought to the governing agencies (whoever is responsible for such alerts) and phone manufacturers. There has to be a way to adjust the volume of those alerts for those of us that do not want to suffer from a heart attack yet would like to receive those alerts.
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