Your mother always said you shouldn't listen to music too loud. You rolled your eyes and thought, "What a square!"
And you went to concerts and stood by the speaker so you could feel the bass pumping through your entire body and felt almost proud of the ringing in your ears when you got home and lay in bed.
Well, now you're lucky if you haven't experienced some degree of hearing loss, aren't you?
I can't handle loud noises any more and usually need earplugs at loud shows (specifically ever since I saw Einstürzende Neubauten in 1999 and Blixa Bargeld almost blew my eardrums out of my head).
You should be wearing plugs, too.
Once you damage the inner ear, there isn't much you can do.
Meanwhile, the world just seems to keep getting louder.
I have a theory that the faster life gets and the denser the population becomes, the more people feel the need to compensate for feelings of insignificance by making noise.
That Rogers ad slogan "Live Out Loud" says it all.
Kind of sad, really both for our stress levels and our ears.
What the experts say
"A lot of audiologists feel they're seeing older ears on younger people. Most would agree that personal listening systems set the stage for hearing loss. Volume isn't regulated. Ear buds deliver the sound further into the ear canal than earphones from Walkman days. People are listening to these things for up to 12 hours a day. The volume's too high if the person next to you can hear through your headphones, if you have to shout or if you can't hear someone standing 3 feet away from you . I'd compare the generation using personal listening systems to those who in the past developed cumulative hearing loss from factory work."
REX BANKS , chief of audiology, Canadian Hearing Society, Toronto
"There is a well-known phenomenon called the Lombard effect. As noise increases, people speak more loudly, often without knowing they're doing so. I think this is probably happening on a societal level. Basically, there's more traffic noise, more cellphone noise. There is no doubt increased noise leads to hearing loss. It's becoming more acceptable to speak loudly in public, whereas 10 years ago it would have been strange. Before technology, noise was just our voices, and it would only escalate as a function of how big the group got. If you want to have music in your environment because of its social lubricating effects, place the sound where people are going to be so you don't have to blast it ."
FRANK RUSSO , research fellow, department of psychology, University of Toronto at Mississauga
"Probably 90 per cent of North Americans don't get the recommended daily allowance of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency causes the death of hair cells in the ear. It's been shown that if you pretreat people with magnesium before exposing them to noise, you can prevent [damage]. You can also treat it once it has happened. Chlorophyll is a good source of magnesium. Magnesium is drastically depleted by stress and difficult to get from your diet. It needs replenishing all the time because we are not well endowed to conserve it. It needs to be in balance with calcium as well. People are getting a lot more calcium than we used to, and there's been a dramatic shift in this balance."
AILEEN BURFORD MASON , nutritionist, immunologist, Toronto
"I always ask my new students if they're aware of the risks of hearing loss, and they often say no. Where would they learn about it? Health class? Some music teachers have had to retire early because of hearing loss. Noise should be a quality-of-life concern for everyone, and it should be on the environmental agenda. Because you habituate to it, noise only becomes an issue when there is suddenly something extra-loud and toxic. Most people just accept slow habituation and possible hearing loss."
BARRY TRUAX , professor, acoustic communication, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver