top 10 most annoying noise sources

noise was declared a significant health problem by the WHO in 1996. yet to this day it remains a taboo theme, that does not often get talked about. in a world that is getting louder and louder being sensitive to noise turns out to be a huge handicap. i speak from experience here. i guess with tinnitus one is naturally hyperfocused on hearing, constantly checking for fluctuations in the inner ear sound, and then all additional noise sources tend to irritate even more. so of course the tinnitus i gave myself while being a DJ didn’t really help, but i have to admit, that i had been getting more and more sensitive to noise even before that. ironically it is when you start to crave quiet that you notice how noisy things really are around you.

here’s a list of my top 10 most annoying noise sources:

1. cowbells

this may come as a surprise to many, because cowbells are considered oh so romantic. what makes cowbells hard to deal with is the combination of the very invasive, high pitched bell sound and the utter stupidity of the item. cowbells were useful and made sense in the old days; they served to control flocks of cows in mountains, and in particular to relocate animals that had strayed. with technical advances in gps and smart fences cowbells should be made redundant today. the only reason they are still being used is tradition.

another thing that bugs me about cowbells is a weird sense of compassion for the cows. cows lead miserable lives as it is; they are either walking milk factories with bleeding uteruses or steaks in the making. yet on top of that miserable predicament humans stick huge cowbells around their necks that emit a loud riniging noise every time they move. i am sure cows suffer from severe tinnitus.

in short, i happen to fully disagree with bruce dickenson. “i have a fever, and the only remedy is less cowbell”.

2. churchbells

on sunday morning around 9 o’clock in any swiss city the church bells will start banging for 1/2 hour. what utter arrogance! i am an atheist and have long ago cancelled my membership to the church. yet every sunday morning i get woken up by stupid and loud churchbells reminding me that it’s time to go to church? again, this may have made sense in the old days when 90% of the population were members of the church and attended service each sunday. but now? buzz off. leave us alone already. especially on sunday mornings. it does not help of course that churchbells were designed to emit a very invasive and loud sound.

3. neighbors music & talking

i find noise from neighbors very hard to deal with and i realise, that the problem here is primarily a psychological one. with loud, disrespectful neighbors you always “could” say something eg. ask them to please be more quiet. and if they are mature and you a good communicator, they might even comply; for 5 minutes… where as with other noises like for instance noise from cars who would you even talk to… in most occasions though it is best not to say anything, because very often in defiance the neighbors will end up being even more noisy. so with loud neighbors you constantly wonder, should or shouldn’t i say something?

to live in a badly insulated house where you hear your neighbors talking is very creepy. it feels like living with strangers in the same room. but the list of annoyances goes on: music (most often only the bassline makes it through the walls), doors slamming, cleaning, lawn mowers, etc.

4. neighbors snoring

i used to live bellow a heavy snorer and i do mean heavy! the walls were shaking, literally. poor guy. snoring is a sound that is very hard to deal with. if the snorer sleeps in the same room, there are tricks to handle it: whisteling, shaking them, toothpaste… but if it’s a neighbor, what are you gonna do?

my downstairs neighbor aka ugly red just got a new boyfriend who snores very loudly. ffs.

5. dogs barking

occasional dog barking is no problem, but some dogs tend to be at it all day long. in san francisco i used to live above a woman, who would go to work every morning and leave her dog at home. as soon as she left the building the dog started to bark non-stop and only stopped when the woman came back home at night. every day. enough said.

with dogs the annoyance of their bark goes counter to their size; the smaller a dog the more annoying it barks.

6. babies crying

a stuffy plane from zurich to san francisco with 5 babies crying in close vicinity is enough to make you hate that sound forever. they say the sound of your own baby is less hard to deal with. but i don’t trust that. yet.

7. ringtones

ringtones are especially irritating when some guy decides it is a good idea to take out his new mobile phone in a stuffy bus or train and starts to go through his ringtones…

8. construction sites

the good part about construction noise is that they are usually temporary. but sometimes through sheer bad luck it can become non-stop. like about 2 years ago, when first the house to our left received a new roof, then the house to our left, and after these two construction sites were done, they started to do some street construction in front, shortly followed by the same in the back of the house. all in all it was at least one year of construction noise every day.

9. cars

car noise is a nonstop, almost subliminal irritation, and as that i am sure we don’t really understand how much health damage it may cause. but it is a noise that can easily be tuned out. sometimes i even use the streetnoise as some sort of white noise to keep myself from hearing my neighbors.

10. airplanes

when i lived in california i once tried to get away from all civilisation noise and i went to a so called desolation wilderness in the sierras. these are great stretches of untouched nature. you have to get a permit to even enter them. i walked for miles and set up camp. no noise from humans to be heard, except, you guessed it, airplanes. so even if it’s perfectly quiet otherwise, there’s always gonna be some airplane…


so thats my list. i would be curious to hear other people’s opinion. how to live in a noisy world?

edit: as was pointed out by tim in comments, it would be overly negative, if i dont also ask, what people’s favorite sounds are. so?
mine is my wife’s voice in quite a few circumstances that i won’t get into too much detail about right now… closly followed by the murloc sound in wow; a sound that i first hated and now love.

About Jan Zuppinger

Jan Zuppinger has been writing this blog since 2002. He likes to grow vegetables. He likes to eat them too. He has opinions on everything, but sadly no one cares. Jan Zuppinger is not joking, just joking, he is joking, just joking, he's not joking. *click.