My Grandfather was an electrician in a mill. He often explained his lack of hearing from years of being around loud machines. “GRANDPA! TURN DOWN THE TEE VEE!” He would wave a hand in our direction, mutter something completely incomprehensible and turn the volume on the TV up.
Last weekend a friend of mine spoke of reducing the noise in his life. As a single man who enjoys many activities outside the computer, I thought it was a strange, though admirable, statement. So often the level of noise in my life is beyond was I can tolerate. Children whining and needing immediate attention pulling on my arm, Co-Workers on IM, twitter, facebook, email, friends asking about this weekend. It’s not that the noise is bad, each in of itself, it’s that together there isn’t a single conversation occurring in full. The noise fractures my relationships in to compartments. Not a single person gets my full attention.
Having the opportunity to be with people in real life, to sit across a table with community members from work, to enjoy watching the children throw rocks in the water with a friend, to sit together as a family each night at dinner, helps. It helps bring the level of noise to something manageable. But during each of these interactions there is almost always a phone, a computer, a noise-producer. I’m pondering the long term effect on our relationships and if one day I’ll be waving my arm in the general direction of those I love muttering things they don’t understand.