Living in an extroverted world

The steady beat of what I assume was music never stopped while I waited for my carryout order last week. I say I assume it was music because I could hear only an annoying artificial electronic drumbeat that seemed to never vary for the length of my wait, which was plenty long enough for two or three songs to play. If any other instruments were playing, they were lost in the echoing vastness of the high metal girder ceiling that is the fad in stores and restaurants.
I remember being puzzled several years back when a grocery store moved to a new building and adopted that warehouse style. I believe the reasoning was, make it look like warehouse bulk stores and people will shop there, subconsciously thinking they’re getting bulk prices. Fashion in stores and restaurants greatly influences shoppers because packaging and presentation, for better or worse, can equal or even outrank the product inside when consumers are making choices.
When that grocery store opened I felt like I had to shout to be heard at the bakery counter, and I strained to hear the bakery clerk because all the normal sounds of a busy grocery store bounced off that ugly open-girder ceiling and the hard tile floors, creating a cacophony that for me was not conducive to shopping. Add to that echoing bedlam in stores is music broadcast overhead because people in this country are horrified of silence, of being in a room devoid of music or a TV or both, and I often make my shopping trips as short as possible so I can escape the disconcerting overload of input and retreat to the sanctuary of relatively controlled conditions in my car and the quiet of my home.
Our society seems designed for extroverts, who crave commotion and a level of sensory input that can overwhelm we quieter types. Schools are designed around group learning, which is often a poor learning situation for those who prefer solitary study and who learn best when left alone to intensely concentrate on a reading assignment, a set of math problems or an art project. Libraries are no longer a haven of quiet concentration as in the past, and conversations in normal (or louder) voices are often the norm these days.
I’m a quiet person. I dislike dealing with cacophony when I shop. I fit the introvert mold so perfectly, they should put my photo in the American Heritage Dictionary next to the definition of introvert. Although “introvert” has gained a somewhat negative connotation in our gregarious, aggressive society that believes in sayings such as “If you’re not the lead dog the scenery never changes” — I counter that with “If you remain independent rather than running in packs you create your own scenery” — I am proud to be an introvert. My introversion, and my OCD, which I consider a strength in many ways, allow me an ability to intensely focus on any project that interests me at the moment, nearly to the exclusion of everything around me. I have redefined OCD as obsessive compulsive drive.
That’s not to say I dislike extroverts. I love their energy, their banter, their humor. But I dislike being forced to live my days in an extrovert world, where raucous talking interferes with my concentration at a library, where stupid store designs make for a noisy shopping experience, and where pop music with a repetitive, monotonous electronic drum beat blares at me from overhead while I’m pumping gas.
We don’t need music playing 24 hours a day, everywhere we go. We don’t need TVs blasting exaggerated artificial colors and unsettlingly rapid-fire images at us in every store, restaurant and (especially) doctors’ offices. We can do with a good bit more quiet and a great deal less sensory overload.

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