Sonic Pollination or Pollution

In today’s electronically engaging world we are faced with an expansive and diverse visual climate.  We often are glued to YouTube, Facebook, and other social media. We may micromanage our lives in the palms of our hands without noticing the visual distortion that lies in the increasing number of power lines, construction sites, billboards, etc. Even if we were able to be fully attuned to the visual growth hammering away at the treelines we may not even notice the consequential noise developing alongside these modern advances. The world is getting louder.

Our brains typically have the ability to delineate useful sounds from background noises which have no utility to our function. The brain will in fact dull any constant sound heard for longer than five minutes from our perception though this does not mean that we are no longer physiologically affected. Unnatural and pollutive sound literally raises heart rates and has been found in some studies to be linked to a decrease in cardiovascular health over long periods of exposure.

Some experts advise using protection in the form of ear plugs or better yet earbuds. Unfortunately this may sometimes decrease our awareness of others and decrease our ability to communicate. Already we see many people who live in their own sound bubbles who are completely disconnected from the world around them. As an alternative to battling the wearing sounds of the city, it is suggested to listen to pastoral sounds for at least five minutes a day.  Silence is also an equally important tool that can be helpful in achieving better sonic health.

These problems not only affect all of us but also directly affect our community at TCS. For those who are either hypo or hypersensitive to sound the world can be incredibly jarring. Others may not be able to block out constant sounds the way typically developing adolescents and adults are capable of. Thus it is of utmost importance to keep these auditory challenges in mind while working with our community.

If you would like to learn more about our physical and mental relation to sound and its effects on communication, TED Talks offer a fantastic echelon of brief lectures that discuss this pressing issue. Julian Treasure in particular presents some fascinating research on the effects of sound in our everyday lives.

– Benjamin J. Davidow

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