It is becoming more and more noticeable to me of late just how noisy society is.  Noise is EVERYWHERE!

Virtually from the moment we wake (to that ever annoying alarm), or head out into society in the morning if we are lucky enough to have a quiet home, until we fall back asleep at night we are bombarded with noise.  Radios, traffic, emergency sirens, other people talking (often, usually, at a volume far higher than is really necessary), bells ringing (I have the “honor” of working at a high school), aircraft, and loud speakers.  Even elevators and call waiting have to have music or annoying advertisements/messages.

Why are we so afraid of quiet?  Not even silence (but that is for later).  Just quiet.  My wife and I were out for a nice dinner a few evenings ago.  The restaurant was quite upscale (it was her anniversary – don’t get the idea we are wealthy and do that all the time) so one might expect a certain level of soft ambience fitting the setting.  One might even expect a piano in the corner playing soft music by which diners could have peaceful conversation (yeah, I get the irony of suggesting a piano making noise in a rant about too much noise – just go with me on this).  However, not so.  While the first hour or so was quiet by comparison, the people around us still didn’t seem to understand the concept of hushed conversation around a table.  Yet another sign of the oh so prevalent apathy about which we (ok, I) have spoken in the past (and about which I am finding a great need to launch into a tirade again!).  However, later in the evening, the “lounge” next to (and part of) the restaurant became excessively loud.  A live band was playing.  There is no barrier between the lounge and the restaurant.  It was not a soft jazz band.  We may as well have been in the front row of a live Rock concert.  And of course those in the lounge had no choice but to “yell” at each other to be heard above the music.  Conversation in the restaurant became virtually impossible.  Luckily we were just a few minutes from leaving.  However, we ate quite early that evening.  For many, the time we were leaving was the normal time to begin an evening out.  My question, where does one find a peaceful evening out?

Although I think I was born old in that I have never been a “let’s go hang out in a bar and yell at each other over the music” kind of guy, I actually have no problem with that kind of club.  But when EVERYWHERE becomes that kind of club I’ve got to wonder about the mind frame of society.  Why, why, why are we so afraid of quiet?!

These are just a few examples.  Bottom line: it is virtually impossible to find a quite spot in society.  I challenge, no I DEFY, anyone to actually find a quiet spot in public.  I, unfortunately, do not have the means to purchase a 1000 acre ranch in Montana.  I think that might be what it takes.  Even in one’s own home (and my wife’s is quite insulated) you will hear the noise of cars driving by, planes over head, lawn mowers, etc.  If not so much inside, having a peaceful drink on one’s patio is impossible.  There, one isn’t even insulated to a limited extent.  When I visit many other neighborhoods (thankfully not ours of yet), I hear all that above as well as neighbor’s loud “discussions”, music blaring, kids riding their motorized mini-cars or small motorbikes, dogs barking (which I understand dogs are want to do, but owners COULD be cognizant of their neighbors and limit the animals) and all sorts of other non-silence about.

I read a letter to the editor the other day (don’t ask me why – it is a rare occurrence since they tend to annoy me – hold that thought (yes, I DO know what you are thinking)).  It matters not the subject or the periodical but this person states emphatically that “Silence is deafening and unfriendly.”  Silence is not deafening.  Silence is not unfriendly.  How absurd!  Where do people come up with such nonsense?  In fact, based on the definition from Webster “himself”, silence is “forbearance from speech or noise” or the “absence of sound or noise”.  So, since it is NOISE that tends to be deafening, silence would be the exact opposite of deafening!  For those that may have been contemplating asking why letters to the editor tend to annoy me, you now know.  I contend that to suggest silence is deafening is to suggest someone afraid of their own thoughts.  Maybe they are afraid of evil demons living inside their head that are only silenced by noise from outside.

Don’t think this is just a problem in the U.S. either.  I have traveled the world.  Noise is everywhere!  In fact, noise has gotten so bad around the globe that the World Health Organization in Geneva has even published a document entitled Guidelines for Community Noise.  It begins by stating, “Noise has always been an important environmental problem for man. In ancient Rome, rules existed as to the noise emitted from the ironed wheels of wagons which battered the stones on the pavement, causing disruption of sleep and annoyance to the Romans. In Medieval Europe, horse carriages and horse back [sic] riding were not allowed during night time in certain cities to ensure a peaceful sleep for the inhabitants. However, the noise problems of the past are incomparable with those of modern society.”  It goes on to provide disturbing data on just how bad the noise problem in society is.  As well, according to the Health Promotion International group, “Noise pollution is an ever-increasing problem in modern technological society. It is well documented that repeated exposure to even moderate levels of noise can be injurious to health, but often unappreciated are the more pervasive physiological and psychological effects.”   The group further discusses the relationship of noise “to chronic sleep disorders and to cardiovascular problems”.  Even according to National Wind Watch, “there is overwhelming evidence that [the noise from] wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents, usually stress-disorder-type diseases, at a nontrivial rate.”  Wind turbines!  They are not only dangerous to birds (yeah, I really don’t care) but cause stress disorders in humans that live nearby.  Is it any wonder that this society is going postal?

It is therefore not our parent’s fault that we have issues. Nor is it our own.  I contend EVERY human ailment is due to noise.  Until we can get it under control we should forgive those poor people in prison and release them all.  How can we hold them responsible for what is clearly the cause of noise created by society as a whole?!  Oh quit having a heart attack.  That was hyperbole (look it up).

I could go on and on.  I think you get the picture.  The REAL question is:  who is willing to buy me a ranch in Montana?!

>>> The day is at a close, the night is drawing in and my cigar awaits – ’til next time…