The War on Silence

If you live in an urban area you are surrounded by noise at nearly all hours of the day. It never seems to end, and most people have adapted by tuning it out or overpowering it with their own noise. It’s obvious that the effects of noise are extremely detrimental to human life but you will never hear a politician pledging to do anything about it.

As a society we’ve recognized air pollution as a major health threat, and we’ve passed numerous laws to mitigate or penalize it. What air pollution is to the health of the lungs, noise pollution is to mental health. But there aren’t any serious laws against it, and what few regulations exist are rarely enforced. We’ve allowed our cities to become noisy hellholes because economic activity is prized above mental health.

According to a whitepaper published in the US National Library of Medicine, “Noise pollution chips away at the public health, interfering with our immune systems, learning, and sleep, boosting stress hormones, and contributing to cardiovascular maladies, even at levels too low to cause hearing damage.”

Backup beepers installed on industrial equipment are frequently cited as one of the most annoying noises, causing the most complaints wherever they are used. Everything from the garbage trucks at 5am, to delivery trucks, to construction sites use these ear-piercing beepers, visiting angst and misery upon millions of nearby residents. The default decibel level on these beepers is far above the level that causes ear damage. There are dozens of columns written in newspapers and magazines which complain about these infernal beeps.

At a past residence, I thought I had the perfect setup. My window overlooked a vast undeveloped field. Aside from the usual rude neighbors and barking dogs, I enjoyed long periods of unbroken peace and quiet during the day. This is exactly what I required for working from home as an aspiring writer and web developer. Natural silence is necessary for allowing your mind to access deeper levels of thought. Unbroken chains of thought lead to profound insights. Quiet focus is needed for reading comprehension and learning. In a noise-filled environment, I often need to read the same short passage three of four times before I can comprehend its meaning.

Then one day, the nightmare came. As per usual, the greedy real estate developers could not stand to see an empty parcel of land go unpaved and unmonetized. They decided to turn it into a “park”, for which the city would pay out millions of dollars. In our perverse society, an urban “park” needs to be a highly developed artificial environment. God forbid they just put up a sign and a walking path, and leave it at that. That wouldn’t allow them to swindle the taxpayers for all their development and maintenance fees.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Speaking of development fees, the signs went up that this land would be under construction for more than a year. That’s how long it takes them to turn a grassy field into a grassy field with sidewalks and bathrooms.

Before long the armada of heavy equipment arrived, and from that day forward my peace and quiet was a thing of the past. One of the most senseless and irritating aspects of that experience was the backup beeps. Much of the development work involved grading and leveling large areas of land. They use a lot of different equipment for this and a water truck comes behind them spraying everything down to prevent dust clouds. The trucks and earth movers needed to repeatedly do short sections and then backup and repeat. Every time any of the dozens of vehicles on this project went into reverse gear, a loud ear-piercing beeping would sound, to warn nearby workers. The result is that the beeping was pretty much continuous for 8 – 10 hours a day, beginning at 6am. It was so incredibly loud that it was impossible to ignore it or drown it out. The noise was scientifically designed to disrupt thought patterns and break concentration, even piercing through ear protection, so that it can’t be ignored.

The backup beepers are mandated by OSHA to prevent workplace injuries, but it’s a classic case of bureaucratic incompetence. They aren’t actually proven to have any effect on worker safety – quite the contrary. Studies prove that not only are the noises detrimental to the health of construction workers and nearby residents, but that they are so ubiquitous they are quickly tune out. Imagine being a worker on a busy construction site, hearing these continuous beeps all day every day. Are you going to constantly jerk your head around looking for the source of the noise? Or are you going to use a little common sense and watch where you are going so that you don’t get run over? OSHA weaseled it’s way out of addressing the complaints by adding an alternative to the rule – a construction site can provide human flaggers to work every truck on site, in place of the beepers. Of course, most equipment has no way to shut off the beepers, and the flaggers would cost a lot more money, so nobody uses them. They would rather cause permanent cognitive and hearing damage to their own workers than spend any more money.

Millions of people have complained about these beepers all over the world. They are so bad that the City of London has banned them – you know, that small area of London where all the well-connected banksters live. Silence for me, noise for thee. We see similar patterns in the U.S., with extremely affluent enclaves banning leaf blowers while everyone else is stuck with them. Limousine Liberals always look after their own interests first and foremost, and say what you will about them but at least they have the legislative cohesion to get it done.

Newer, more effective technology exists that is proven to work much better without the noise pollution. But the new technologies have not been widely adopted because the equipment-makers would have to spend slightly more money to implement them. This is a case of a problem that was created by government, and can only be solved by government. Lovely how they guarantee themselves job security with their never-ending loop of problem creation and problem solution.

If you manage to get lucky for a while and live in an area that’s only rarely disturbed by the backup beepers, that is certainly no guarantee of future enjoyment. At any time, a neighbor could decide to renovate their house or install a swimming pool. A vacant lot could go into development. A government building could be torn down and rebuilt.

Other noises that top the list of urban nuisances are loud motorcycles (bikers think that they look like tough guys by annoying the shit out of everyone within earshot), modified car mufflers (ditto for the idiots who think the loud pipes on their shitty Honda Civic makes them look cool), and booming subwoofers. If there were any justice in this world, it would be legal to pull these cretins from their vehicles and bludgeon them to a state of near-death, on the first offense. It would also be permitted to siege and ransack the businesses who develop and manufacture these instruments of satan.

Ever hear of a broom, asshole?

 

Barking dogs, car alarms, leaf blowers, loud televisions and stereos, trashy morons who yell at their kids, and home power tools are also choice weapons in the war against silence and sanity. It’s getting to the point where everyone in the typical city is so mentally damaged that they make noise on purpose just to act out their passive-aggressive sociopathy against the rest of humanity. The utter selfishness and arrogance of most people is also a contributor, as so many of them believe it’s their god-given right to disturb others if it brings them the slightest personal benefit.

The desire to be free of unwanted noise is not just a personal preference, though sensitivity to it varies. It’s medically proven to cause damaging physiological effects. Sleep disruption is proven to impair cognitive function and physical health. There is no debate – it’s bad for humans, period. It should fall under the purview of government mandate to get something done about it, since it is a public health issue.

Stroll around any lower class, poverty-stricken neighborhood. Whether it’s a trailer park or a ghetto housing project or a Mexican barrio, you will be struck by the sheer noisiness. There are honking horns, loud engines, people yelling and screaming, out-of-control children shrieking at the top of their lungs, booming bass from shitty music, airplanes and helicopters flying overhead. Is the noise part of the cause, or the effect, of the low IQs and low incomes? Probably both. Noise disruption is proven to cause learning disabilities in young children. Obviously anyone surrounded by a cacophony of noise will not be able to string a series of deep thoughts together and form strategies for raising themselves out of poverty. They are in a constant state of stress and reactivity, because intrusive noise subconsciously signals danger and puts people on high alert.

All they need is a scholarship to help realize their potential.

Look at rap music, and it’s accompanying car subwoofers, for all the proof you need. The music was systematically designed to short-circuit any deep thinking, and to cause maximum annoyance to all within earshot. The people who listen to it are some of the most retarded and antisocial scumbags ever to walk the planet. This terrible excuse for “music” literally helps keep its listeners in mental slave chains, and they are too stupid to know it. They wish to inflict this burden on everyone around them, which is why you will often see them driving around with all car windows rolled down even in severe weather, in order to force their pollution on the entire neighborhood. It’s the only taste of power they will ever know.

Anytime someone describes a nice neighborhood, the word quiet is used. It’s a huge selling point in the real estate industry – quiet tree-lined street, quiet cul-de-sac, quiet gated community.

It’s become one of those problems in society that you are forced to buy your way out of, because only the wealthy can afford to get away from the noise, and so they don’t care about reducing it in the commoners’ neighborhoods. Expensive high-rise apartment buildings in noisy downtown areas are mostly constructed of steel and concrete, with soundproof thick glass windows. Compare that to your typical stick-frame apartment building in the suburbs with paper-thin walls and idiotic neighbors on all sides.

Schopenhauer looks quite the curmudgeon, but that doesn’t make him wrong!

The great philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer left us some choice quotes regarding noise, in his classic essay series Studies in Pessimism:

“There are people, it is true — nay, a great many people — who smile at such things (noise), because they are not sensitive to noise; but they are just the very people who are also not sensitive to argument, or thought, or poetry, or art, in a word, to any kind of intellectual influence. The reason of it is that the tissue of their brains is of a very rough and coarse quality. On the other hand, noise is a torture to intellectual people.”

“Noisy interruption is a hindrance to this concentration. That is why distinguished minds have always shown such an extreme dislike to disturbance in any form, as something that breaks in upon and distracts their thoughts.”

“Noise is the most impertinent of all forms of interruption. It is not only an interruption, but also a disruption of thought. Of course, where there is nothing to interrupt, noise will not be so particularly painful.”

“I have long held the opinion that the amount of noise that anyone can bear undisturbed stands in inverse proportion to his mental capacity and may therefore be regarded as a pretty fair measure of it. ”

On the idiots who don’t seem to see anything wrong with all the useless and disruptive noise, he had this to say, which matches perfectly with my own observations:

“…their senses are obtuse; consequently, when they hear a noise, it does not affect them much. It does not disturb them in reading or thinking, simply because they do not think; they only smoke, which is their substitute for thought. The general toleration of unnecessary noise — the slamming of doors, for instance, a very unmannerly and ill-bred thing — is direct evidence that the prevailing habit of mind is dullness and lack of thought.”

If noise was such an ongoing torment in the early 1800s, I can only imagine the good philosopher’s reaction were he forced to endure a single week in our modern urban hellscape.

Noise pollution needs to be fought at the government level, with laws and funding provided to enact severe penalties on those who disturb our peace. This is already done in every affluent neighborhood in the country, but it needs to trickle down to the less fortunate middle and lower classes through local government action. It may seem a petty and trite thing to devote energy to, but we’re talking about the mental health of millions of citizens. The fact that most people are apathetic and complacent in the face of this problem is further proof that 90% of society are a bunch of cowardly and brainless NPCs.

You can count on the government currently in power to do the opposite of whatever would benefit humanity. They know that noise keeps people stressed out, angry, and DUMB, and that is exactly why they refuse to address it with the same vigor they employ against phantoms like climate change.

 

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