Tuning out distractions is hard. Television and the web distract us easily. I find it’s easy to turn off the television but I work on a computer most of the day, so I find myself visiting social media websites often without thinking about it.
Last week I went on neighborhood walks with my mother and Andrew, her five-year-old daycare charge. The walks reminded me how much noise technology has brought into my life.
I think some noise is useful and important. Music, especially most classical music, relaxes me and helps me focus. I monitor news each day so I remain an informed citizen of my city, state, the United States, and our planet as a whole. And social networks help me be a better friend, professional, and business owner.
Walking around my neighborhood reminded me that various media, especially news media, brings me harmful noise. After all, if I don’t like a classical music piece I can switch to a different station website or open YouTube and listen to a favorite piece I saved on my profile.
I find that harmful noise comes in the form of anxiety that might come from physical harm or death. For example, recent stories in the news media about domestic terrorism and countries coordinating their military plans to act against the U.S. keep the anxiety level up. When media companies keep anxiety up, more people watch and companies can get more money from advertisers.
The web brought connectivity in the form of online discussion and commentary. Though connectivity is good, too many people feel that the relative anonymity provided by a computer screen justifies the choice to be negative. (Sometimes I wonder if I should have investigated that issue for my master’s thesis in communication.)
Getting Closer to Gray Noise
I can make positive choices, so I limit my TV time and I selected the information I receive on social networks. I’ll talk about the latter in my next post.
I also go outside more when my body (and the weather) allows. I not only take walks but I sit in the backyard to watch the daycare kids play — and play with them when I’m up to it. Life rewarded me by reminding me about what my current life is about.
I live in a quiet neighborhood, but at times I hear cars going by and kids playing. My neighbors live their lives quietly and get things done. My neighbor’s tomatoes are growing well and he gave some to my mother recently. Cars and trucks drive up and down Highway 49 transporting people, goods, and services. Exercise fortifies my muscles. The views of flowers, plants, historic buildings, and hills help me de-stress and recharge.
How do you reduce the noise in your life?