A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

By Nina Pajak

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Aaah. Do you hear that?


The tourists are (mostly) back in their rightful homes. The traffic is gone. The empty sidewalks sprawl before me, seemingly wider than they were back in November. It’s quiet. So quiet. Blissfully silent.

Also, I think I’m beginning to lose my hearing.

True! Says a new study published online in the journal, Environmental Science & Technology. According to some scientists who don’t live in New York, 90 percent of New Yorkers may be at risk of hearing loss. Largely to blame, unsurprisingly, are our personal MP3 players. You know, the iPods, the Androids, the Zunes, the Rio (does anyone still have a Rio?), the Walkman, the Discman, the ghetto blaster. Wait, too far back, too far back. Sorry. I got carried away.

According to MedlinePlus, the National Institutes of Health’s website, the study is not exactly gospel just yet. Information was gathered by surveying New Yorkers on the street (in exchange for a $1 lotto ticket—sweet!) regarding their habits, commutes, leisure activities and daily lives. Then the researchers took that information and some other information and some other other information, and estimated the types and levels of noise to which these people were exposed each day. Oh, science.

So while it’s not quite a mathematical certainty that you’re going to need to start turning up the television and reaching for the old-timey, cartoon ear horn, it’s a pretty fair conclusion that living in this city is making us all go a little deaf. Of course, people all over the country and the world listen to music through headphones, but not everyone is subjected to the screeching of trains, the din of tunnel traffic, and the general hubbub of our bustling city.

On the bright side, Mayor Bloomberg just announced that thanks to our stellar fitness, HIV prevention and testing, and anti-smoking efforts, New Yorkers now have a life expectancy that outshines the national average! I feel like these two findings are very closely linked. Think about it: the longer we live, the more prolonged our exposure is to noisiness. The more prolonged our exposure, the higher our likelihood of losing our hearing. The higher our likelihood of hearing loss, the less we are obliged to listen to anything we don’t want to, the more relaxed we are, and the longer we live.

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In conclusion, we’re the best. Q.E.D.


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

The Nina Archives:

5 Amazing Banished Words From 2011

5 New Year’s Eve ‘Don’ts’ For New Yorkers

Thank Goodness For Good Riddance!

A Trip To Gingerbread Village

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