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We live in constant noise and silence fade away!

Updated on August 13, 2012

We all need moments and places that are quiet and where we can “hear” the silence. But it is difficult to find silent places in our modern world. Our time and its people seem to feel an insane fear of silence and it’s almost as we do what ever it takes to avoid listen to our thoughts, or others for that matter!

The definition of hearing is to be able to hear sounds, and the definition of silence is the absence of sound, so therefore you can’t really hear silence. But I use the phrase anyway, because I think that being able to “hear” and experience silence is vital for humans, we need opportunities to listen to our own thoughts and our minds. It is important to have a place where we can find silence, especially when our life and our world are spinning fast.

We are constantly surrounded by sound in our modern lives. The problem is worst in the cities, but also in the countryside it’s difficult to find silent places. Even if you are on a boat in a small lake in the middle of nowhere, it isn’t silent! You can often hear remote traffic, shots from a shooting range, aeroplanes etc. Living in a city means that you must accept being surrounded by sound from e.g. neighbours, traffic. In the city, it is seldom silent, and as time goes, you get use to this background noise. On the other hand, living in absolutely silence, like an eremite, isn’t the thing we need, but the possibility to have a place where you can have peace and quiet without disturbing sound when you want to, that’s necessary.

We live in “sound infected” times, surrounded with music that we haven’t chosen, car engines, fans, cell phone signals and other peoples noisy chatter. Worst is the music that fills out every corner. In restaurants, shops, buses, gyms, waiting rooms, everywhere there is music, and most of the time at high volume. The supermarket has constant music and advertising messages and if you wait on the phone, you can be forced to listen to a bad version of a hit. On trains and busses you have to listen to other peoples conversations on cell phones, even if you don’t want to hear it.

In bars the music is so high that we often have to shout to each other in order to communicate, and the music gets higher by the hour, because the pumping music are supposes to make the guests drink more. In the end, conversation is impossible or gets absurd.

Why music is high in some restaurants is incomprehensible, because the main reasons to go to a restaurant is for the food and to be able to talk with your dinner company. It is hard to appreciate even good food in a restaurant with high music, and if the experience isn’t positive you won’t get back there a second time.

Music is great and can be used for relaxation and I really enjoy listen to music. Music can create all sorts of emotions and memories. It is the constant “shower” of music that is disturbing and the shower of music you haven’t chosen.

This constant noise has an impact on us, even if we don’t know it.

What is silence?

A sound level not exceeding 20 decibel is usually described as quiet. If a sound is seen as noise is personal and can differ between people. But most people think of sounds like the wind, birds singing as sound that is accepted in a silent place.

Silence can be understood in different ways; it can be a negative silence, or a positive silence.

A negative silence can be seen as lack of speech and audio, and many people are intimidated and feel uneasy without noise, like when nervous chatter arises to fill out even short moments of silence. For some people forced silence can be horrible.

Silence can also be positive if you appreciate peace and quiet. A walk in the woods can give a sense of tranquillity when the wind rustling in the trees. And since most people don’t see wind as sound you can focus on your own thoughts. Another positive silence is the casual silences that can be between couples that have been married for a long time, or between old friends. When you know somebody well you don’t have to talk all the time and there is no awkward silence that needs to be filled.

How can noise affects us

We are bombarded with noise today. We are exposed with hundreds of times more sound vibrations than our parent and grandparent ever could imagine. Sound affects us and our state of mind in many ways. To be exposed to such noise often and all the time causes irritation and stress in humans. At worst, it can result in permanent hearing loss or health problem. The so-called modern sound is often all around us and in that way elusive, and can be humble, week and discrete. But it is also pollutant and much more dangerous than we can realise.

Sound that we see as noise affects our concentration and our ability to learn new things. It can cause headache, heartbeat, high blood pressure. Sometimes, we might even not hear the noise, not until we turn it of or the noise disappear, but when it does, we notice the difference.

Sound travels in wave’s trough the air and is measured in frequencies and intensity. Eliminate noise totally is often difficult and instead we use another way; when we can´t get rid of the noise instead we try to “cover up” the noise with for example music. And it might work, that is, if you like the music!

We quickly stop paying attention to noise of moderate level. But that we don’t pay attention doesn't mean that we don’t are affected. It is just difficult for us to see that there can be a connection between sound and the way we feel or how well we function

What is noise for younger people?

The younger generation have more or less grown up with noise; noisy toys, cartoons, and of course music. By the time they reach the teenage, they avoid silence and many teenagers screens off from the world with mp3, and music from other sources. They are also used to be constantly online on Facebook and twitter where they have to respond to all there friends, be available both online and on cell phone. To send 5 000 text messages or more per month isn't unusual for teenagers. With all this interactivity going on, and the noise present every where, when do they get a chance to know silence?

Find your one place of silence!

Think about where you can find silence. Your silence and where you find it is very personal. Remember that it takes a moment of silence to “hear” it and to be able to hear your thoughts or hear what your soul says.


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