Have you ever stopped to just listen to the noises around you? Would all the ambient sound that bombards us all day long, if it were suddenly to go away, truly make us all insane? My life endeavor has been finding silence so that I can think, focus inward, listen to my breathing, etc. Being the introvert I am by nature, silence is the only thing that truly provides me inner energy. With that in mind, I focused on the ambient sound around me during my lunch break today, this is what I was able to discern:

  • Rain hitting the leaves of the trees
  • Tractor trailer off in the distance
  • Dump truck or large machinery
  • Lawnmowers, weed eaters
  • Various vehicles driving around
  • Jetliner flying overhead
  • People talking while walking through the parking lot
  • Doors opening/closing
  • Cars starting
  • Birds flying and singing
  • Music playing (unknown source)
  • Loud car off in the distance
  • Wind blowing
  • Tree limbs moving and creaking

It was quite interesting that all this background existed that we’re just used to hearing. It was absolutely surprising how many things were actually making noise in the background. All of this would be classified by a normal person as “ambient” or “background” noise. At any given time in our daily routines, we’re subjected to 40-60 decibels of ambient noise. The video linked below actually says that we’re so used to ambient noise that total silence would put some people into the loony bin and over the edge. It’s an interesting ponderance and what prompted me to go outside at lunch and just listen closely to what I normally dismiss.

Without an anechoic chamber, such as the one in this video, its impossible to have complete and total silence unless you submerge yourself into a hyperbaric chamber. Personally, I could do without water, especially since I have no idea where that water has been. Apparently the Japanese are all nutballs over hyperbaric chambers. My curiosity is unfortunately peaked and I’m on the search for an anechoic chamber within driving distance of my home so I can see if I can get into one and see for myself. With my ever vigilant search for silence, I would probably try to build a room in my house that replicated this at least partially.

I already know that I can’t have complete silence all the time. The issue for me is that I’m hyper sensitive to certain sounds around me that overpower everything else around me. Some of those sounds are, in no particular order:

  • Nail clipping
  • Mouse clicking
  • Keyboard typing
  • Nose blowing, sniffing
  • Foot tapping
  • Humming or singing softly (out of tune)
  • Loud conversations (clearly hear)
  • Chewing of all kinds

It’s enough to put me in a bad mood all day long with a general lack of focus or motivation as most of these sounds exist every day while in the office. I’m not that guy that goes around trying to get people to stop, because I admit I’m oversensitive and its not their fault its bothering me. I will talk to someone if their music is too loud or they have vulgar language. I usually end up putting my headphones on and listening to music at a volume that drowns out most of the background sound, but not so loud that I can’t hear someone behind me or knocking on my cubicle. My phone also runs through my laptop, so I can easily pick up the phone.

Wonder how much sound absorbing foam actually costs….