I was about to start this column with a cranky anecdote of when I was rocked by my outdoor experience thanks to a bluetooth speaker or backpack mounted audio system, but it there are too many times this has happened to link it to a specific incident. Earlier this week, a Tweet surfaced that took to the big internet, not just in the outdoor community, but in what I will reluctantly call mainstream culture. He said, “Stop bringing crappy bluetooth speakers on hikes.” No one came into the woods to hear you listen to Katy Perry.
And just like that, a sea of endless social media comments, angry letters to the editor, and general grunts in the public forum were summed up so succinctly that it got viral traction, saying what so many people have felt it for years.
If you read this column two weeks ago, you are probably familiar with my aversion to the crowded hiking trails of BC Parks, which are the most likely place for said traveling jukeboxes. But as the trails become more popular and Bluetooth speakers get smaller, cheaper, and more boring, the proliferation of noise pollution will continue deeper into the backcountry.
I don’t really understand the need or desire for thunderous airs in its natural surroundings, but let’s start with some common sense guidelines.
Headphones are always an option, so why the thunder of pop music? Is this supposed to be some kind of a rallying point for other assholes? Even if you are hiking in a group, having the music from your headphones at low volume in one ear will allow a decent level of situational awareness, such as approaching wildlife or other hikers wanting to pass. . Conversations between band members can still take place while feeling the groove of the music in your cheerful outdoor space.
The same goes for the ski resort. These lost backpack stereos have been around much longer than Bluetooth speakers, with wearers sort of thinking that dozens of other people in the elevator line are feeling the same vibe. I’ll gladly speak on behalf of the dozens of people in the queue when I say this: We don’t need your shitty music to liven up our ski day, or the jarring Doppler effect of your music when you blow the cat track on you. Again, headphones are common and acceptable; if you need a speakerphone for your friends to find you, you are wrong. Fortunately, the bluetooth speaker hasn’t made its way to the winter skin trails yet, although I’m sure people blasting their music in crowded backcountry huts are the most. likely to do so.
I find this slightly more acceptable for groups with speakers that set up in a particular location for a picnic or camp, as long as they keep the volume at a tolerable level and the other groups can maintain it. a distance. The Chief’s summit or the Black Tusk summit in the summer doesn’t really qualify for this. Cooling by Khyber’s smokehouse in winter even more.
Then there are the waterproof Bluetooth speaker owners who insist on paddling the soundtrack of their life. The cool air near the surface of the water refracts and slows down sound waves, effectively amplifying sound through the water. Still or still water also reflects sound, adding to the amplification. That’s why you can hear the voices of revelers at Rainbow Park across Lake Alta. The solution? You guessed it. Some waterproof headphones.
This is not a rant against music or even outdoor music. It is simply recognizing that there is a time and place to turn on that bluetooth speaker and it is not when you are moving around an outdoor space, whether on foot, on skis, on a bicycle, on a bike. boat or otherwise. Boomboxes were popular in the ’80s and were instrumental in the rise of hip hop in urban communities, although this subculture declined after people grew tired of hearing them on every street corner. and that a little piece of personal audio technology called Walkman has arrived. The Bluetooth speaker didn’t have such cultural gravity as the Boombox in its heyday. As photojournalist Lyle Owerko describes in his book The Boombox project: machines, music and the urban metro: “Towards the end of any culture, you have the second or the third generation entering the culture, which is so far from the origin, it is the impression of what is real, but it is not. the full definition of what is real. It’s just cheesy.
I rest my case.
Vince Shuley loves the sound of nature. For questions, comments or suggestions for The Outsider, email [email protected] or Instagram @whis_vince