We've become such a noisy nation - it must be time to turn down the volume

11 December 2023, 08:05

Is it time to turn down the volume on modern life?
Is it time to turn down the volume on modern life? Picture: Alamy
Johnny Jenkins

By Johnny Jenkins

Social etiquette is on the brink of breakdown. We’ve become an unbearably noisy and disruptive nation utterly devoid of manners - it’s time to change.

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Every time I get on a train, I wear my noise-cancelling headphones. But even the best headphones the high street has to offer are not enough to drown out the racket from my fellow passengers.

To my left, a screaming child watching Peppa Pig on full volume clutching their enormous iPad. To my right, somebody arranging their social life loudly on the phone. I don’t care that you can’t make it to spin tomorrow morning!

It’s fundamentally bad parenting to teach your child it’s acceptable to make as much noise as they want. In some cases, it’s not just seen as acceptable, it's encouraged by the parents. We need to introduce and properly enforce fines for disruption on public transport.

Some of our passengers need to be taught a tough lesson. I’d love to see heavy fines enforced by a volume-monitoring brigade on our trains and buses.

It’s not just public transport either, social order has broken down in our theatres. There’s been reports this week of a culture of chaos in West End venues. These are sacred venues crucial to the social fabric of our society - we need to have some respect!

When you hear about people using their phones, projectile vomiting in the auditorium and fights breaking out in the aisles, it’s no wonder that theatre staff say that audiences have forgotten how to behave.

The entertainment union BECTU says that 90% of theatre workers have seen bad behaviour at work, with many staff considering quitting because of it.

Front-of-house ushers bear the brunt of this carnage, but spare a thought for the hard-working performers. How can you perform an emotional ballad while Brenda and Karen are arguing after too many glasses of pinot?

I think I know where this disregard for one another comes from - it must be another consequence of the pandemic. We got so comfortable in our own homes that we forget our manners when we’re in public.

We ought to have more respect for one another. We’ve all got busy lives - nobody wants to hear about yours.

I’m fed up with noisy phone calls in public, loud music blaring out on the train and fights breaking out in theatres. It’s got to stop.