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The Noise in Our Lives

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January 23, 2014 by John Crapper

I contend there is more noise bombarding us, clouding our thinking and impeding our judgement than ever before. This increase in noise pollution has been an insidious yet consistent phenomena in our lives, yet we are largely unaware of it and its implications.

As stated in Wikipedia

Noise pollution affects both health and behavior. Unwanted sound (noise) can damage psychological health. Noise pollution can cause annoyance and aggression, hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects. Furthermore, stress and hypertension are the leading causes to health problems.

 

This increase has been slow and subtle but it has significantly altered our perceptive abilities and served to increasingly isolate us from our natural surroundings.

I first became aware of this phenomena when camping. One of the main allures and the predominant reason I love to camp is that it allows me to “get away from it all”. In a very deliberate fashion you are uprooted from most of the modern world connections and immersed in nature and all of its quiet beauty. Gone is the hustle and bustle of the city and the constant roar it makes from the never-ending human activity Traffic noise is minimal. You can hear the wind rustling through the trees and the birds chirping on their branches. The stars in the night sky are no longer obscured by the bright blinding city lights. You are content to sit for hours by the campfire and hear nothing but the crackling of the wood and watch nothing but the flames dance around the logs.

While camping I realize just how much the noise level has increased. Camping harkens back to a simpler time in our existence when man didn’t have or require so much stuff. Life was lived closer to the earth. Life was lived in a more manual manner. It was a slower pace and much more in tune with the natural rhythm of our environment. Power for daily tasks was derived mostly from ourselves and animals. It was also a quieter life.

A TV in this environment seems foreign and obtrusive. Every time I go camping I quickly have a peace come over me that I never feel in the city. There is a rekindled awareness of the close relationship between myself and the natural world around me. What I like most is the quiet. For me it is a spiritual experience.

I know I’m exposed to a lot more noise on a daily basis than I was when I was a kid too. First off I’m around a lot more people every day and people make noise. When I go for a drive I encounter more cars, when I go for a walk I pass by more people. But that is not nearly the whole story.

I lot of the modern conveniences we now have not only reduce manual labor but make a lot of noise when we use them.

MakitaA big category that comes to mind is power tools. Stop and think for a moment just how many of the ones you use are power. We have power screwdrivers, saws,drills and sanders. We have weed eaters, leaf blowers, hedgers and clippers. We have lawn mowers, pressure-washers, cultivators, jack hammers and compressors. I could go on and on. But it was not that many years ago that these power tools didn’t exist.

Now consider this. For each of the tools I mentioned above compare its noise factor to the manual version. See what I mean. Some of the tools mentioned above even come with the recommendation to wear earmuffs while using.

When my wife and I walk in our neighborhood we are constantly accosted by the noise of one of these tools that is particularly annoying – the leaf blower.   I even have a special name for it. I call it the “blow boy”. It is the noisiest damn thing. Compare it to the docile leaf rake and you get my drift.

Everything beeps these days too. Lock your car – hear the beep. Unlock the car – hear the beep. Don’t put your seatbelt on – hear the beep. Don’t hang up the phone and hear the beep. Makes me go beeping crazy!! Wasn’t that many years ago that the only thing that beeped at you was the alarm clock and I still hate the sound of that sucker!!

It also seems to me that some people these days are addicted to being around noise. I swear over half I encounter passing on the sidewalk have some kind of electric device plugged into their ear. I wonder if they even remember what a bird sounds like?

I would love to see a renaissance of manual tool use. I would love to go for a walk and see people using push mowers and raking instead of blowing leaves. It would be refreshing to see another person besides me using a sickle to cut down weeds instead of that damn noisy weed-wacker. I swear I can get the job done faster, better and for sure a hell of a lot quieter using one. Plus I stay in better shape using it.

But who am I kidding. It’s not gonna happen. We love to use outside sources of power to do the jobs we once did with our own. We would rather plug it in or start it up. Why swing a hammer when you can shoot a nail? No reason to strain a wrist screwing in a screw. The increased noise and the reduced physical activity is a small price to pay, right?

Power to the people!  Make some noise!

I’m not Amish but they have a point!

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Our climate is changing. I'm humorously serious about addressing it. I'm convinced my ego is the main culprit. My religion, Holy Shitters, demands I humble myself and celebrate the fact my shit stinks.
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