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October 17, 2017

Don’t play your music in public

(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

I wouldn’t consider myself the gray-haired, “get off my lawn” kind of guy, but every day I can feel myself becoming a little bit less Dan Riley and a little bit more Ebenezer Scrooge.

For the life of me, I cannot wrap my head around the audacity it must take to think that it is in any way, shape or form acceptable to play your own music aloud in public. The overconfidence and lack of social grace to even imagine that anyone would ever or should ever be subjected to listening to your personal music is, quite simply, staggering.

There are contexts where I understand and enjoy public music: parties, concerts and bands that play in the dining halls on Sundays. Those are all more than fine. Further, maybe you are driving somewhere with your friends, bumping some music and having a good time. Sure, everyone within a hundred yard radius can hear every word coming out of your radio and can feel every bass drop in their bones, but you are hanging out with friends and aren’t thinking about how the sound is amplified outside of your car. It’s fine and only lasts a few seconds for people driving by. However, people who walk around campus on the way to class with music playing from their phones, or people who have little speakers in their backpacks? Good God.

It is absolutely befuddling. I would never dream of making hundreds of random strangers listen to my music every day. My taste in music is pretty tame and inoffensive: some pop and hip-hop, and some classic rock. It is all generally agreeable if not unremarkable music for a generally agreeable if not unremarkable curmudgeon like myself. But it would still be impolite and selfish to blare it for all to hear. I do not want nor do I need the attention.

In all seriousness, maybe you cannot afford headphones. I am sorry if that is the case, you are not the target of this column and I wish you well. I write this for the people who have a bizarre misconception about how worthy of attention they happen to be. I will be the first to admit that you are probably way cooler than me, and your taste in music is definitely better than mine. Frankly, I cannot imagine there is a single metric by which I match up to you. But regardless, cut it out.

Then there are the people with shower speakers. This one hits closer to home, because it applies to people you are around every day for an entire school year. One certainly would not want bad blood to exist with your dorm-mates.

Seriously though, it’s a shower. It takes ten minutes. Be alone with your thoughts for just ten minutes of silence, because bringing a speaker into a dorm shower is flat-out rude. No one wants to listen to your dubstep at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday. Have some semblance of self-awareness, please. Also, what if you walk into the public shower and someone else with a speaker beat you to the punch? Do you try to play your music over theirs, like some kind of inconsiderate battle of the bands? Be neighborly, and leave my ears alone.

Louis C.K. put it well when he said, “you should act in a way that if everyone acted that way, it would be all right.” If everyone walked around campus with their music blaring, no one could enjoy any of their music or anyone else’s music. If everyone uses shower speakers, it would be the same situation. It is not all right.

I might be making mountains out of molehills; most reasonable people do not care about this. The late Illinois Governor and Presidential Candidate Adlai Stevenson once said “you can tell the size of a man by the size of the thing that makes him mad.” Well, here I am, and this is the molehill I die on.

Dan Riley is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at dpriley@umass.edu.

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