Sunday, February 28, 2010

234 - Noise

There are very, very, very few times in your life where you will hear the sweet essence of silence. I love going to the beach or the swimming pool and diving into the water just to drown (pun intended) out all the sound in the world for as long as I can hold my breath. It's amazing how much noise can come out of one simple action - for example, each instance my finger pushes a key on this keyboard. Even if I try really hard not to make any noise, there's an inevitable sound emitted when the key rebounds back upwards.

That paragraph was roughly 500 characters, which means there were roughly 500 soundwaves that came out. That's just one action, repeated over and over again, by one person. Now imagine the computer room that I'm in. It's seven in the morning. There is only one other person in the room aside from me perusing a computer. He's typing right now, and it annoys the life out of me. Of course, I'm typing too, but here is why I believe I'm not a hypocrite here.

The other person doesn't only make typing noises. He fidgets too. He thinks he's being quiet, but he's not. I can hear the wheels at the bottom of his chair make slight moves, shifting a little bit here and a little bit there on the hardwood floor. I can hear him inhaling quickly, almost desperately, and then letting out each puff of air steadily, with an air of relief. I can hear him scratching, and I know that the slow, but determined reptition is him scratching his forearm, and that the gentle, fast itching is him scratching his back. I can hear him move his mouse along the surface of the desk. I can hear him sniff.

I am fully aware of the fact that it's impossible to be completely quiet all the time. However, one can strive to be, especially when it's fairly obvious that others in the vicinity are trying to get some work done. This is all almost second nature to me, but I make sure that I'm comfortable in my chair when I first sit down. I see no need for any noise to be made when breathing, and I see no need to scratch at all. I hold in my sneezes, I hold in my yawns, and I sniff only when I'm alone.

And even though some noises are inevitably to be made, I try to do it in a way that is pleasing to the ear. While I'm typing this, I type full paragraphs continuously until the very end, and take longer intermissions between paragraphs. There's no need to stop if you learn how to organize thoughts in your head. Why is there any need to be so sporadic and choppy when you type, that's so cacophonous.

Trees rustle, coins jangle, doors creak and printers sound like they're about to explode. But hey, we have controls over our own bodies. So what if other people are making more noise than you? So what if it's just the sound of you tapping some keys? The fact that it's a small amount of noise doesn't mean it isn't pollution. Who needs to graze the floor when they're walking? You're going to make all that noise just so you can get some gum out of your bag? Who needs to hear rap music come out of your phone when you get a call? No, not everybody wants to hear how you flirt with girls over the phone. And explain to me this: why the heck is it that I can tell the difference, when you're scratching your damn arm, and when you're scratching your friggin' back?!


Amna said...


Douglas said...

It only really bothers me in restaurants.

gaf85 said...

Sometimes it is difficult to tune out other people and eliminate distraction especially when it involves noise. I live now in a rural area and when I travel to cities I realize how noisy it is compared to the gentle nature of the environment I have grown used to. I have often wondered if people's use of headphones is also away they tune out the extraneous noises. I don't know if people ever really get used to living in close quarters reflected in the urban setting. To me now it is rather over stimulating. Maybe you need to tuck yourself away some place quiet for periods of time when possible.

Marcy said...

To me, there is something oddly comforting about city noise. Maybe it's because I lived in the city for many years and now that I'm living in the mountains, I miss it.

I will say this, one of my favorite things is listening to snow fall really late at night, especially if you are out in the countryside. It's almost quiet but not quite.

Michael said...


Douglas: Depends if I'm being loud in the restaurant.

gaf85: There is no such thing as 'some place quiet' living on a university campus. I'll be glad to move out of here this summer. :)

Marcy: I used to stay up a lot in Hong Kong, and just walk the streets in the dead of the night because the quiet really cleared my mind and allowed me to think. It's so noise-polluted everywhere, I find, and I don't understand why it has to be.

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