Could You Please Keep It Down?

What’s worse – the steady beat of the bass from someone else’s radio, or the undercurrent of mumbling from someone’s TV news show?

Living in close quarters is best left to communes and dormitories, but, after years of living in an unattached house surrounded by grass and trees  – where knowing neighbors was often optional –  the move to a great ocean view promised to make up for the lack of space, privacy, and quiet of condo living.  Sometimes, it’s enough to fantasize that the ocean is my great front lawn – and confirm that minimalism is good for the carbon footprint.

But the sound of the waves crashing is not always loud enough to drown out the grad student/surfer with all-night parties or the high-pitched screamer who does cannonballs off the seawall…

My next-door neighbor, a retired architect, takes his book into the adjacent park during the worst hours.  I’ve discovered sound-proof ear plugs, my iPod with mostly Mozart turned up, and riveting stories that distract from everything around me.

Right now I’m reading George Prochnik’s In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise.  Did you know the word “noise” is derived from “nausea”?  In the third chapter, “Why We Are Noisy,” he clarifies why those high-pitched screamers are always girls:

“…females make a racket to indicate their choice of partner…”

Noise is not healthy, and Prochnik cites studies that prove the hazards in his chapter, “This is War!”  He suggests that soundproofing and noise reduction regulations may be futile: “Noise is getting worse, even though the policy gets better.”

He suggests finding a quiet spot – “…a road where no one drives, a bench where no one sits…{find out where} the culture is pulling…{then} turn around and walk the other way…”   I can do that.

Related Article:

Trying to Dial Down the Volume

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2 thoughts on “Could You Please Keep It Down?

  1. Kate

    Although we live in a small city, in a quiet neighbourhood in a small house, we’ve been talking lately about the background noise that surrounds us. The constant hum of electricity, for one. The fans in the summer, the traffic on the streets. We are constantly surrounded by noise that we don’t actually ‘hear’ until we are somewhere the noise stops. That’s why we escape to the wilderness so frequently.

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