Ever noticed how much noise there is in our everyday life? While I'm typing this I can hear the white noise of traffic on the major road half a kilometre away. I don't, for once, even have the radio on. It's usually in the background, quite gentle, and tuned to ABC Classic FM; soothing stuff for the most part. I need peace and quiet when I work, which is why I work alone. Surrounded by people I can feel my annoyance rising.
A trip to the post office will take me into a noisy mall, all tiled floors and hard surfaces. It's only when I walk out and head towards home (I walk to the PO rather than take the car for environmental and health reasons) that I realise how awfully loud it was in there. And it IS awful, a cacophonous din of doof doof music from the fashion shops, kids crying, people talking loudly so they can be heard over the music.
Noise can affect our moods. Shopping mall noise - any constant, loud noise really - can make us short tempered, or in a work situation, decrease our concentration. It's no surprise that people are addicted to their iPods, choosing their own music over the noise forced upon them.
Having had the house to myself for a few days with my husband on a business trip, I haven't even turned on the television at night. I have rejoiced in peace and quiet. I've spent two nights painting pictures, and the third, last night, I watched silent movies on YouTube on my iPad.
I had to laugh at myself when I considered what I was doing. I had purposely sought out 1920s movies (Pandora's Box
starring the sublime Louise Brooks and It
starring bubbly Clara Bow) as an antidote to the workdays I have, when technology bombards me from 8.30am to 6.00pm. In the 1920s the telephone was as technological as you got and not every home had one. But... I was watching on a very 2012 invention. There's something strange about that!
There are times when I curse technology. Computers were supposed to make our lives simpler but we are flooded with emails, with requests to network via our computers or other technology; often we are so overwhelmed with the amount of information, requests and data we receive that our productivity is worse than it was twenty years ago, and we are working longer hours just to get the workload done. Clients expect instant results, everything is 'urgent'. I now turn the sound down on my Mac so I don't hear the 'bong' of emails dropping into my inbox as it's distracting, and when I'm on an urgent task, depressing. And as for mobile phones, yes, smartphones are wonderful and I would hate to go back to life without some of my favourite apps. But it seems there is no escape from people wanting to contact you 24/7 and then complaining if you don't answer the phone. Sorry folks, the phone goes to voicemail when I'm driving or in a meeting. Get over it.
But when technology gives me the means to escape to a less frenetic time, I embrace it. I don't even have to turn the sound down. Silents are golden.