George goes off to find some quiet, when he almost goes mad from noise, that’s why. Writer George Michelson Foy was already feeling stressed from all the noise. But one day in New York, he clasped his hands to his ears, as two subway trains screeched into the station at once. He made it a mission that he was going to go off, to find the quietest place on earth. The results became his book Zero Decibels.
The world seems to get louder and louder. From people shouting in the street to women screaming as they greet and kiss you, to game show contestants who blast out your eardrums if they win something (compare that to contestants on the old Bullseye game show – you would not even know whether they won or lost the speedboat they had no need for, which is likely why repeats are so popular).
The charity Pipedown is at the forefront of trying to quieten everything down a bit. They have already had some success in stopping piped music in supermarkets, and now are trying to do the same in hospitals, where people literally can’t get away. Other noises that disturb are drills, car alarms, people shouting on phones, yawning loudly and slurping.
Barking dogs often are due to bored dogs, so keep dogs well-exercised and use positive dog training, and this issue will usually solve itself. Experts suggest creating a quiet room with no electronics for quality sleeping (if pets like to be with you while you work, get a simple quiet laptop and wait until they are snoozing, until you switch on). Dog expert Alexandra Horowitz suggests also replacing LED bulbs with flicker-free versions, as conventional ones can be like a ‘disco bulb’ to pets.
One place where loud noise is really annoying, is if you have to shop in supermarkets. The fact that Morrisons has now had to introduce a ‘quiet hour’ some mornings, shows how irritating many people find it during the rest of the day. And if you don’t live near an organic farm shop, you often have no choice but to shop there. It’s not only annoying, but also disrespectful to their older shoppers, who likely don’t want to listen to blasting pop tunes, while they get their bread and veggies. If you wonder why they do this, why do you think? That’s right, money. Just like McDonald’s using red and yellow colours to increase people’s appetites, if you are stressed and tired, you tend to eat more so will spend more.
So what happened with our friend George? He already knew that Antarctica is not the most quiet place (screeching albatrosses and boats). He finally found the world’s most quiet place – a lab in the Midwest USA. But when he went in, he didn’t like it. It was so quiet he could hear his heartbeat, and even the sound of his scalp moving across his head! It was then he discovered that it’s not complete quiet we want, it’s the right kind of noise: the rustle of wind in the trees, a purring cat, sweet birdsong. Not Morrison’s canned music.