There’s something mildly agitating about large flat panel television screens occupying public spaces. Go figure, I design stuff for some of these screens.
The airport is a prime example.
After wading through a couple hours of mind-numbing line-ups: a long baggage check-in, customs, then security, weary travellers stumbling towards their gate at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport are greeted by a series of loud television screens indiscriminately scattered throughout the travellers lounge area.
The sound of news, sports and weather highlights blaring in continuous loops is obnoxious and difficult—if not impossible—to escape. Their presence only adds to the already high ambient noise levels and overall sense of chaos most of us grudgingly accept as unavoidable aspects of the airport/travelling experience.
I remember writing a post last year citing some of Roland Krundt’s thoughts on this very subject. One passage in particular seems relevant here, again:
“When TV in public spaces intrudes uninvited into our awareness, it’s a form of theft. The intrusion is most shamelessly predatory in spaces where, of necessity, people are temporarily trapped: for example, in elevators or taxi cabs. We’re being coerced, robbed of choice about how to allocate our attention. Our presence contributes to the revenues of the TV provider, but we’re not getting paid in return.”
If you can get far enough away from the television screens in the waiting area (at Pearson) you’re likely stuck hearing the top-pop-40 elevator music filling the airport corridors. This fizzy music is of course periodically interrupted by loud random mechanical buzzing tones (denoting what?), followed minutes later by pre-recorded airport safety reminders, repetitively sounding-off over and over again. Yes yes, I know, we’re not supposed to leave our bags unattended—okay, I get it.
Would it be possible to accept some sort of travellers EULA prior to my airport visit so I wouldn’t have to constantly hear these PA system alerts before my flight?
I really just want a nice quiet place to sit and relax. I don’t want to be force-fed hockey highlights or the latest stock market reports at 110 decibels. After all, I, like every other traveller, carry with me a number of Web-connected devices that allow for instant access such information at my discretion. So why do we need these TVs again?
I wish I had a pair of noise-cancelling headphones at this very moment.
Maybe airports could start incorporating designated “noise-reduced” areas for travellers looking for a little peace and quiet. Perhaps a place for meditation, quiet study, reading or power napping before flights.
Just a thought.