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EVERYTHING KING: Longing for silence in a noisy world

Where do you find quiet? Columnist feels inundated by noise pollution because there's a ping and beep for everything electronic these days
2022-05-15 cellphone
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The sounds of silence. Is there any such thing anymore?

I’m not sure if I have been paying more attention to things recently, but this world is really noisy!

Whether you live alone or in a household of any size, the sounds of all the electronic devices is incessant.

I started to hear all the ringtones, beeps, chirps, and bells going off as text messages came in, then different tones for actual calls, then another for email notifications. It is literally constant. Each one pulls attention away from whatever it is you are working on. It seems vital to check what the most recent ping was all about.

Some people have different ringtones to identify different family members. Country music for grandma, rap for the children, a favourite love song to identify your spouse.

There are different tones for e-mails and Facebook Messenger, too.

There are reminder alerts for appointments, wake-up times and when to take your medications.

One would think we are very important creatures needing to be up-to-date at all times.

And have you watched TV lately? The differing volumes between the program and the commercials is crazy.

I literally feel like a remote control jockey trying to ride the volume controls. My fingers go between the up and down arrows to mute and back to play a doizen times per show. It's enough to bring on carpal tunnel syndrome.

The actors whisper or mumble… volume up. Background music blares... volume down. Dialogue begins… volume up. Here comes a commercial. Mute, mute! It’s a full-time job.

The noise is even more intrusive when out and about. There is no such thing as a leisurely stroll through a store anymore.

Added to the expected noise of the shopping carts with the wobbly wheels comes the muzak drowned out by the loud speaker announcements — about every five minutes  to “please use our self-checkouts.”

Then, because so few people really understand the self-checkouts, there are alarms going off periodically notifying the store employee the customer has done something wrong or someone is stealing something. Wee-ooh! Wee-ooh!

How about a nice scenic drive? Forget that. Blaring stereos with too much bass, horns honking, people cussing, and engines revving. If you really take it all in, it's overwhelming.

Now that the nice weather has arrived and we have our windows open, one would think we could relax a bit. Not so much.

Lawnmowers, leaf blowers, tree cutters, construction workers — none of which would classify as music to my ears.

While I’m on this tirade, why must birds start chirping so loudly at 3 a.m.? Could they not wait to sing a tune until like eight o'clock or so?

It struck me that all this noise must really be painful to those who are especially affected — like people with migraines or anyone trying to regulate a hearing aid. I can’t even imagine the suffering. It's all so tiring.

Until I learn the art of quieting my own mind, I guess the answer is to concentrate on the beautiful noises. There are lots of those, too. Listen for the children playing, kittens purring, coffee percolating, church bells ringing, and laughter in all forms.

Turn that stuff up!


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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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