By Jason Edwards

When most people think of the library, visions of encyclopedia, the blasted Dewey Decimal System and crude slide shows pop into their mind. With the creation of Google, most of the newer generation never really spent time in the library setting and missed a valuable life lesson seldom taught anywhere else – the difference between your indoor and outdoor voice and when to use them. Instead of using the appropriate choice, most people use the only one they know, the obnoxiously loud one.

The librarian taught us valuable lessons beyond just how to look up whom the eighth President of the United States was, Martin Van Buren, without using Google. As scary as this might sound, I predate Google and had to learn to use these things known as encyclopedias. The guardians of silence, or the librarians, also passed down other useful bits of knowledge. One of the most important was what setting required the correct voice volume level.

Ironically, many students only know what an encyclopedia is now by using Google, and they do not know a loud boisterous voice is only appropriate outside, and not indoors. I have noticed in many places around campus and off, conversations happen one way, by trying to speak louder than the other loud group. Let’s look at this problem: If Group A is talking loud, then Group B increases the volume of its conversation to overpower Group A. Now Group A must also increase the volume of its conversation to overpower Group B. This whole process continues until finally my head explodes from the unbearable stupidity I’m subjected to through their loud conversations.

I would also like to clarify, the only time the dueling conversations is allowed is when the content of the conversation has immediate life-altering impact on those in the vicinity. An example of allowable use might be if the immediate area is in danger of being overrun with killer bees, and then the second group announces it isn’t killer bees but killer flying sharks. Then the first group announces the killer flying sharks are in London, and then the second group announces London, England. Inappropriate use of the dueling volume would be a group talking about how everyone on Jersey Shore is a perfect role model for today’s youth, then the second group jumps in talking about which Pokemon cards they need to complete their fifth set. Now, the first group increases volume and begins discussing the techniques of proper turkey deep-frying, and the second group thus has to increase their volume to be able to discuss how Jar Jar Binks is an infinitely deep archetype of the world’s civilizations.

As shocking as this might be, not everyone sitting, walking, standing, sleeping, leaning, dancing, scuba diving or doing anything else around you wants to listen to your conversation, simply because you feel like you and the rest of your group needs to speak over Group B. The voice box allows us to increase, lower and maintain different volumes of sound. Your brain must attempt to decide which volume is appropriate for the situation. Realizing the setting you are in can help decide what volume level is required.

To make this process even simpler for you, I will offer a handy quick reference guide: Library – indoor. Dining Hall – indoor. Park bench – outdoor. Football game – outdoor. Movie theater – no voice. I threw a curveball in there with that last one. When I worked as a theater usher, some 16 years ago, the issue of people talking during a movie only popped up occasionally when high school kids got a little too rambunctious. Now, most people think nothing of answering their cell phone during a movie and starting a conversation. The younger generation is not the only one guilty of doing this, I’m talking to the over 30 crowd. You might believe you have paid your money and can talk if you want, but I’m here to inform you that you are sadly mistaken. When you bought your ticket, you entered in a non-verbal agreement with the rest of the normal world to sit in silence and watch whatever fancy moving images project onto the screen.

I’m not asking everyone to be silent, what I am asking on behalf of the world is before you start yelling your conversation across the room, think about those around you and how you would feel if the situation was reversed. Perhaps instead of increasing your volume, you should ask the group being too loud if they would mind being a little quieter.