Musak rant

The musak/sensory pollution problem seems to have gone up a notch. On a recent trip involving plane, hotel, an interview and Eurostar, I had
a. TV while you wait at the plane gate, pushing ads at you.
b. Musak the entire plane journey not just the taxiing bit (Alitalia).
c. Musak in Brussels airport (even the toilets)
d. Musak in the hotel corridors. Actually it wasn’t so bad but it was so quiet you couldn’t hear it enough to enjoy it. (Marriot)
e. French tv in the waiting room for the interview while trying to prepare for an interview in English and Italian.
f. Very poor musak in the Eurostar waiting room, bathroom and platform. I went to the information desk to find out where I could complain and the guy at the desk said he was going through hell with it too and said “please please complain as soon as possible.”

I want a choice about what I put in my ears. What if you want silence or even to listen to your own mp3 player. Not possible…
Usually they try to find a music that is not going to offend anyone with the result that it is completely insipid and doesn’t please anyone either.

If I am going to advertise to you, there should be a choice to turn away, to switch off, etc… So often now I find myself being forcefed media. My mother was recently in hospital in the UK and she told me that there was TV at the end of her bed, with hospital TV including adverts, which she could not turn off. I’ve seen similar at the UK post office and in petrol stations – they put multiple screens so there is no way out – no position in which to avoid it.

Obviously you can’t go too far in controlling your sensory input. You can’t expect to go on a long journey without hearing people saying things you might not want to hear, loud and unpleasant noises and sights you might not want to see. But I am not suggesting we give the people a sort of virtual private residence in the realm of their senses. I’m just suggesting that we extend the same principle we already apply to spam and junk mail, to non-mail media that is the right to opt out of advertising and perhaps media content in general.

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