The Sound of Silence

'Soundscaping routinely takes place at a more intimate level as well. When we want to isolate ourselves from society’s ambient noise, we rarely think to seek out quiet spots. Instead, we just crank up our own personal volume knob. To make sure that we can drown out traffic noise during commutes, we upgrade the sound systems in our cars to include powerful amplifiers and subwoofers. Fighting fire with fire, at home we turn up our televisions and stereos to mask street noise—and the barking of the neighbor’s dog.

The most popular of contemporary sound-management tools is, by far, the ubiquitous iPod. As soon as we plug the cute white earbuds into our ear canals, we enter the refuge of a personally engineered soundscape. Aural experience becomes completely customized. The iPod doesn’t just shield us from the sound of urban infrastructure. It also, as Prochnik writes, blocks out “the discretionary din that got plastered on top of that layer”—the din created by people talking on cell phones, playing video games, and listening to their own iPods. All of us are now participants in a sonic arms race, with no end in sight.

- Nicholas Carr, 'Defeaned'.


Asha said…
I think the problem with outside noise is that I have no control over it, so it distracts, but with my ipod, 'I' am in control- so I am happy to drown noise by creating more noise.

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