The Noise I Am

I hate noise.  I don’t like honking cars or sirens or the sound of people walking on top of me — but that’s life in the Big City and there is no escape from noise.  Even suburbia is polluted with sound — lawnmowers, leaf blowers, motorbikes and snow blowers.  Everything every day adds to the cacophony of clanking we must all bear with our ears. 


However.

I find the sound I make all day long does not bother me.

My two radios, fans, three televisions and streaming internet commentary do not bother me at all.

In fact, I can even multitask and listen to them all at the same time.

Everyone else I’ve met finds the stink of my own noise incredibly annoying, stultifying and insane — and I thank them for their opinion — and then I turn up the sound on my iPod.

I wonder why our own noise is such a joy to our ears while simultaneously annoying others.

Is it because the sound is our own musical creation of the hallmarks of our day?

Or are we, the lovers of our own human environment bombardments, just the pallbearers for the death of tranquility and silence in our lifetime?

7 comments

  • Gordon Davidescu

    I think it’s somewhat because we are anticipating our own sound and so they don’t bother us, whereas we are jarred by unexpected sounds. That’s why I’m not startled when I hear a siren in the city but I am when I hear the same sound out in the country.

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  • That’s a good perspective, Gordon. I suppose we also choose to only listen to things that please us.

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  • Kimberley Fields

    This may have something to do with the level of decibels we hear sound with.
    I have a higher pitched voice than my husband. The high pitched sounds do not bother me. I am very comfortable with those sounds. However, they startle and often hurt my husband’s sensitive ears. He has a bass tone to his voice and seems to function better in surroundings with lower tones.
    I understand that we are adaptable creatures. We can change environments and over time adapt to those sounds and our surroundings until they become the norm to us. Then, we hardly pay attention to those sounds at all.
    I am curious as to what role the sound of our own vocal pitches and tones may have on our sensitivity to the bombarding noises we live in on a daily basis.
    I think this is certainly something to think about.

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  • Excellent, Kimberley! I also think being able to define the sound in context helps. The thumping radio bass in my apartment doesn’t bother me, but the “traveling bass” in the apartment next to me that sounds like a hammer in my wall is unbearable. Some of us are “Super Hearers” and any sort of loud or sharp sounds affects us more than it affects “regular eared” people. SMILE!

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  • Kathakali Chatterjee

    I don’t have a problem with the sound of an ongoing radio, I can somewhat handle the TV too, but I absolutely hate the screeching sound of wheels on the road – it hits me like a hammer.
    I don’t have a problem with my neighbor’s German shepherd barking but can’t stand when the Pomeranian barks – it irritates me beyond tolerance.

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  • Thanks for the fascinating insight into your sounds conditioning, Katha! It is purely amazing to learn how people respond to environmental sounds that form us.

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  • Pingback: Why is Silence in the Workplace No Longer Golden? | RelationShaping

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