Shhh! Scheme (Ineffectually) Targets Smartphone Music

Playing music through phones on public transport is a complicated issue. On the one hand, if you hate the music being played, it’s a spectacularly rude and selfish thing for one person to inflict their tastes on everyone else. On the other hand, if you like the music, it’s horrific to hear it mangled into a tinny rattle by the world’s worst speakers. So it’s difficult to get everyone to agree on why it’s a stupid thing to do, but not that it is (as it utterly, undeniably is).

Playing music through your smartphone speakers is an electronic broadcast to the everyone in audio range informing them that that you don’t care about them, music, or yourself, and you’re prepared to ruin all three for no other reason than you can. In a utopian future society, these people will be given a simple choice: headphones or deafness. Alas, the government currently lacks the funding and political will to arm public transport employees with surgical tools, or even wood-glue guns with ear-fitting nozzles.

In the meantime we’re stuck with well-meaning nonsense:

Bus company Arriva decided to fight this sonic pollution (which is good) by asking politely (which is laughable.) They filmed a video for the Shhh! scheme, asking passengers to turn off the music, blissfully unaware that everyone watching the video is already on their side. A far better scheme would have been an instructional PSA saying “Does rudeness bother you? Then do something about it instead of sitting and awkwardly festering for an entire bus journey! Show some backbone or get over it, those are the choices!”

The video does suggest one scheme which could work. The ad’s gimmick is people in popstar face-masks following the music listeners, representing how crowded it makes the bus. The actual effect is a bit different.

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