23 January 2017

The Shouting Americans II: The Lack of Indoor Voice

Last month I was in the USA again; I spent a week visiting my sister in New York City. And it seems that every time I visit the USA, I get culture shock. Yes, as much as I have lived in the USA for 11 years total, there are still things that I find strange and makes me scratch my head. Most of the time, it has something to do with the sound level of people in public, which I find rather loud.

I've actually written about this before; when I was in Washington DC about a year ago, I encountered the same thing. People shouting at you in your face. Yelling at you seems to be quite normal here. There is no such concept as an indoor voice.

The other day I was riding the 2 train from The Bronx to Manhattan, and there was a group of adolescents who came in, perhaps riding after school. I was reading my book. It took a lot of my mental powers of concentration to block off their conversation. They were all yelling, and seriously, acting like a pack of wolves.

It's not just a teenage issue. Even adults do it. When I arrived, my sister took me to a ramen house in Queens. While inside, I noticed that everyone was pretty much shouting. Sometimes it is just too much to take that I just shut down, because trying to follow a conversation is too hard since there is so much going on around you. And yeah, your throat hurts too, because you try to talk above the whole din, and it also makes you shout.

The other day, I was in another restaurant, having dinner with a friend, and sure enough, it was the same experience. I woke the next morning with a sore throat.

Perhaps I have adapted well to the German love of indoor voice. That said, I am still not a fan of German police-like attitudes when you somehow violate the unwritten code of silence. But when everyone violates it, then that is something else.

The American affinity for noise is something that I find hard to understand; I definitely prefer Europe when it comes to this issue.

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