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Source: (consider it) Thread: 8D - Quiet Zone: "It's too quiet!"
Ariel
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# 58

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"It’s too quiet." How often have you heard someone say that? Or perhaps you’ve thought it yourself. Many people find silence uncomfortable, creepy or challenging, and turn on the radio, TV or music to break it up. Pauses in conversation can be described as awkward or again, uncomfortable. Some people will hum, whistle or fidget to fill in the gaps.

Modern life is full of a barrage of man-made sound, unless you're able to get out to somewhere isolated where you don’t get the roar of traffic, the hum of machinery, ringtones, and sounds of music from shops, passing cars, neighbours and so on. Have we become so used to a background of noise that we find its absence unnerving? What is the nature of the discomfort we feel when faced with silence? What is the threat it appears to pose?

[ 19. March 2017, 14:38: Message edited by: RuthW ]

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Sarasa
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# 12271

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As a deaf person my personal gripe is with places that insist on playing much to help the atmosphere. If I want to listen to music I want to listen, not spend my time being not quite sure if I can hear something or not. My local hospital's audiology drop in-centre is particularly annoying. I'm sure it makes the receptionists feel comfortable but if it irritates me, I'm sure it irritates other users too.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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What bothers me is the necessity for every little gadget to have confirmatory beeps. Car door and other indicators, trucks backing up (particularly annoying), buttons on phones, cameras, microwaves. Everything. I do not need, require or want such reminder sounds. And those who need them, because the truck might back over them because their face is stick to the screen of their phone, let the darn thing scare the living daylights out of them please.

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Paul.
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# 37

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
What is the nature of the discomfort we feel when faced with silence? What is the threat it appears to pose?

I can't speak to "we", I can only speak for myself.

I suffer from anxiety and depression, although I've been relatively well for a while for which I'm grateful.

From my perspective silence can mean being alone with my thoughts and that can be unhelpful when my thoughts are spiralling negatively out of control. Distraction, which will probably include non-silence - putting the TV or radio or a podcast on - is good in those situations.

Now as I say I've been OK for a while and so it's not such an issue at the moment. In fact I have recently started meditating and that's been good. But I do know there are times when it wouldn't be. I know there were times when I couldn't read a book for example because it wasn't distracting enough (generally I love to read so this was sad).

If I have a point - other than just personal sharing - it's that don't assume people who eschew silence are just spiritually shallow.

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Tree Bee

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# 4033

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I'm very comfortable with silence, in fact I crave it sometimes. I like to read with no background noise and weed my garden without my neighbour's dogs barking at me. As a Quaker librarian it's not surprising.
My husband can't abide it, he even sleeps with the radio on (he uses earphones).
Complete silence is rare though. We had a holiday in Suffolk and realised that at night there was no sound at all.
During Meeting we hear church bells from the church over the road, and blackbirds and robins calling. This sort of sound can be faded into the background or concentrated on.

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Lamb Chopped
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# 5528

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I love silence except when I'm working (writing, mainly). Then I need a low roar of white noise (conversations, preferably) in the background. Otherwise my mind starts chasing rabbits instead of concentrating on whatever the next paragraph was supposed to be.

But if I'm in a proper time and place for chasing rabbits, well... [Big Grin]

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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Over the years I've put a good few reviews on TripAdvisor. A recurrent theme is background - or too often foreground - music in restaurants (bad) as against the proper soundscape of cutlery on plate, chink of glasses and people conversing. I had a particular grouse against an otherwise nice hotel in Tighnabruaich for low level but pervasive musak - who, I ask you, comes to the Western Highlands because they feel they don't have enough pop music in their lives? The hotelier defended it as preventing 'dead air'. Pub managers say 'it's what people want'. Hum. The pub round the corner gets by without it and it's as crowded as this one... (I've also heard bar staff say they are under instruction to up the volume during the evening as, when people can't hear to talk, they drink more).

I have even been to shopping areas (in North America) where they piped music into the street.

So I regard public silence as something under attack, and defend it when I can.

I am happily well found for private silence. I was following the instruction in a mindfulness exercise to pay attention to ambient sounds - and bedamn, from the back room I was in, I couldn't hear any.

On the one hand, I increasingly find noise jarring and intrusive. Yet I'm very prone to the kind of recurrent and depressing thoughts that I could well do with being distracted from. I haven't solved this yet.

[ 27. October 2016, 08:34: Message edited by: Firenze ]

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Welease Woderwick

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# 10424

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We have a park in The Big City where we have outdoor speaker-y things all over the please and there is piped muzak whenever the park is open - it may still also be being piped along the waterfront walk.

It annoys the heck out of me.

--------------------
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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
Over the years I've put a good few reviews on TripAdvisor. A recurrent theme is background - or too often foreground - music in restaurants (bad) as against the proper soundscape of cutlery on plate, chink of glasses and people conversing. I had a particular grouse against an otherwise nice hotel in Tighnabruaich for low level but pervasive musak - who, I ask you, comes to the Western Highlands because they feel they don't have enough pop music in their lives? The hotelier defended it as preventing 'dead air'. Pub managers say 'it's what people want'. Hum.

You should read "The Good Hotel Guide" - it's a perpetual moan of theirs.

I have gone into restaurants and walked out again simply because of the "music". (Now, a folk music pub - that's something quite different).

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
(I've also heard bar staff say they are under instruction to up the volume during the evening as, when people can't hear to talk, they drink more).

Well, that explains a lot about our local restaurants. (I'm also suspicious that I'm just getting old--I can't hear crap over the music anymore and have taken to choosing my restaurants based on whether I will be able to hear the person opposite me.)

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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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Many years ago the loudspeakers on Waterloo station in London played rousing martial music in the morning to get people off the trains and out into the street as quickly as possible. In the evening they played quieter relaxing music to soothe the homeward journey.
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leo
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# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
Over the years I've put a good few reviews on TripAdvisor. A recurrent theme is background - or too often foreground - music in restaurants (bad) as against the proper soundscape of cutlery on plate, chink of glasses and people conversing. I had a particular grouse against an otherwise nice hotel in Tighnabruaich for low level but pervasive musak - who, I ask you, comes to the Western Highlands because they feel they don't have enough pop music in their lives? The hotelier defended it as preventing 'dead air'. Pub managers say 'it's what people want'. Hum.

You should read "The Good Hotel Guide" - it's a perpetual moan of theirs.

I have gone into restaurants and walked out again simply because of the "music". (Now, a folk music pub - that's something quite different).

Me too - or I ask them to turn it down and leave without paying if they refuse.

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Curiosity killed ...

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# 11770

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There are a few stations on the District Line in rougher areas where the stations play gentle classical music - to stop yobbish behaviour apparently. (It's still happening, and I met a couple of older gentlemen heading to one of those stations, planning a pub crawl starting with a Wetherspoons breakfast and working their way outwards, on Tuesday morning. They didn't know where they were going and I ended up helping them then asking because I wouldn't go to Dagenham Heathway from choice.)

Walking the Pennine Way there were some lads walking it at the same time as us playing music loudly to keep themselves going. Which defeated much of the point for me.

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Ariel
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# 58

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Some colleagues and I went out for a pub lunch recently. It was one of the less popular weekdays, possibly Monday, and we were pretty much the only people in the pub.

We sat there at a table with high-energy music dominating the place and inevitably the conversation, as we couldn't ignore it. It seemed completely at variance with an old-fashioned country pub with wooden tables, antique prints and brasses on the walls. I thought it was too loud but the others seemed to think it was about right. They had a lot of fun identifying and commenting on the tunes.

I've made a mental note to avoid going back there: the pub is nice but the music was so intrusive that it spoilt it for me.

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jacobsen

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# 14998

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It's probably advancing age, but I hear a sound occasionally which has to be tinnitus. So far, it hasn't stopped me from hearing anything else, such as birdsong, which I understand is one of the first sounds to be lost with diminished hearing, and often is not there at all. I can also tune it out. But it can be annoying when I would otherwise be enjoying the silence of my home to have this audible crinkle in my ears.

And what everyone said about pub and restaurant musak. It's a bloody nuisance. Particularly in Italian restaurants, which, owing to the cultural lack of soft furnishings seem to be especially over-resonant.

[ 28. October 2016, 06:34: Message edited by: jacobsen ]

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Fineline
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# 12143

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I find a lot of people find sound reassuring. In a conversation, or discussion, silence often offers no feedback or reassurance - unless you know someone very well, you don't know why they are silent, what they are thinking, what they are feeling, etc. People like feedback, and like to know where they stand - often they are thinking about themsevles and take another's silence personally, I have observed this because as a child and teen I was often silent. I also don't have body language and facial expression that can be easily read - I remember reading about how people can be uncomfortable around autistic people for this reason, and since then I often try to say things to interpret myself to people so that they are more comfortable with me, but my natural inclination is often just to be silent.

I like silence. I chose a place to live that is very quiet, off the road, and I am right now sitting in silence, other than hearing an occasional firework. Noise is tiring for me, and I find it hard when there are lots of different noises - if several people are talking at once. I have auditory processing difficulties, so listening to someone speak and understanding what they are saying (not to mention taking in all the simultaneous non-verbal and non-literal info) takes a lot of effort. Silence is generally relaxing - unless there is something behind it, like if everyone is silent because they are in shock about some bad news, or if you say something people are uncomfortable with and there is an awkward silence. There are many different sorts of silences. Silence alone is better than silence in disharmony with others. But silence in harmony with others is a lovely silence.

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Ariel
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# 58

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quote:
Originally posted by Fineline:
I like silence. I chose a place to live that is very quiet, off the road, and I am right now sitting in silence, other than hearing an occasional firework.

My former family home had a depth of silence about it that seemed deeper somehow than the usual kind of silence you get. As if noise was more like a pebble thrown into a well, ripples that would vanish and fade.

I can remember standing there in the hallway just listening to this now and again. The depth of it could be very restorative. There was little but the occasional sound of passersby, the odd car, birds. Then silence.

It could be creepy, mainly at night. Sometimes it was difficult to live with. Sometimes it felt like a weight and the place felt dead, lifeless, like a tomb.

None the less, the depth of it is one of the main things I miss about that house and I will be looking for that, or near equivalent, wherever I go next.

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Boogie

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# 13538

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I don't go into the gym changing rooms, I come home to shower. The reason being they have a TV and a radio on at the same time.

Ohhhh for silent gym changing rooms!

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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The weather has turned unseasonably warm, such that many more continue to cycle commute. I have the luxury of about half my route is on a dedicated path along a river. The older ones of us seem to not require the earphones which the younger do (I'm about 60), of which there are two groups: iEarphones and over-the-head phones. No amount of bell ringing has them give-way to pass when riding the centre. I've no idea what they listen to, but maybe a survey would be in order.
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Piglet
Islander
# 11803

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
... Pauses in conversation can be described as awkward or again, uncomfortable ...

The subject of awkward breaks in conversation came up several years ago when we had some friends round to our house during the hiatus between a wedding and the reception.

Someone said they'd read somewhere that when such silences fall, it usually happened at 20 minutes past or 20 minutes to the hour. I can't remember where this theory came from, but sure enough, the next time there was a pause, we all looked at the clock and it was 20 past the hour.

Anyone else come across that theory?

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alto n a soprano who can read music

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Amanda B. Reckondwythe

Dressed for Church
# 5521

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I especially detest live music in restaurants. That said, there used to be a McDonald's in Los Angeles that employed a harpist. It was known as the "Yuppie McDonald's" and the ambiance (if not the food) was quite pleasant.

I especially detest the practice of including a music sound track as a background to news broadcasts. Also as a background to commercials where the script is otherwise being read (not sung -- singing commercials can be rather entertaining).

For me, silence definitely has its place, and I like it.

I'm a poor conversationalist, though, and my "small talk" is often peppered with awkward silences. I don't like that about myself.

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Piglet
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# 11803

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I suppose, like most people, I've become used to music being played in restaurants, shops and so on, but the quality can make a huge difference.

I remember once when shopping in Oxford Street, being thoroughly fed up of all the thumpy music in most of the clothes shops, I went into (I think) Laura Ashley, where the piped music was Vaughan Williams' Variations on a theme by Thomas Tallis. I was so enchanted I bought something (probably just a scarf or something similar) although I'd really only gone into the shop to browse.

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I may not be on an island any more, but I'm still an islander.
alto n a soprano who can read music

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churchgeek

Have candles, will pray
# 5557

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I think I'm going to be the second person here to respond to the OP (which was asking why people might be uncomfortable with silence).

Mostly, my own answer is very similar to Paul's. I'm bipolar type 2 (tending mostly to depression and dysphoric hypomania, but not psychosis or all-out mania). So my brain can be a very unsafe place. Having external noise helps me not spiral down with it.

I also want to second this:

quote:
Originally posted by Paul.:
If I have a point - other than just personal sharing - it's that don't assume people who eschew silence are just spiritually shallow.

My second reason is related. I grew up in the country, very isolated. Being (undiagnosed and untreated) bipolar in that environment, especially since I'm naturally a people-person (right on the line between introvert & extrovert). The quiet made me feel lonely, and made time seem to pass slowly. It also amplified my restless mind.

My third reason is simply that I often like having some kind of leveling noise/sound that covers potentially distracting sounds: people chewing, sniffling, shifting in their seats; outside noises, etc. Especially if I need to concentrate or if I'm feeling irritable (common with a mood disorder). If I need to pray, read, or write, music helps me do that.

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Ariel
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# 58

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quote:
Originally posted by churchgeek:
I also want to second this:
quote:
Originally posted by Paul.:
If I have a point - other than just personal sharing - it's that don't assume people who eschew silence are just spiritually shallow.


I don't think anybody on this thread has actually said this. Has something given you the impression that it has, or is this an attitude that you've come across in real life?

I am well aware that certain kinds of sound and music can be gateways to spirituality for some people, as can dancing.

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kingsfold

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# 1726

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quote:
posted by Ariel:
quote:

Originally posted by churchgeek:
I also want to second this:

quote:

Originally posted by Paul.:
If I have a point - other than just personal sharing - it's that don't assume people who eschew silence are just spiritually shallow.


I don't think anybody on this thread has actually said this. Has something given you the impression that it has, or is this an attitude that you've come across in real life?
I don't think that it's that anyone on the thread has actually said this, more that thus far the majority have expressed the view that, on the whole, it's all [far] too noisy. And I guess, as with most opinions, that comes across as being more or less judgemental, either unwittingly or deliberately.

I am, self-confessedly, one for whom silence comes naturally and (relatively) easily. For those of you who find it more difficult, please continue to try and help me to understand your perspective.

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And in that light of life I'll walk 'til travelling days are done


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churchgeek

Have candles, will pray
# 5557

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I can't speak for Paul, but I'll say no, nobody's said that on this thread. I've heard it implied IRL, though.

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I reserve the right to change my mind.

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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Another thing is insecurity. In a group, silence will often only become relaxed if people know who is in charge of ending it.

Jengie

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