Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Noise Noise Noise

Our television signal comes from one of those mini-satellite dishes. To view TV from the dish, you have to run the signal through a special receiver, and wouldn't you know it, awhile back the receiver died. It was still under warranty, which meant that the manufacturer shipped us a new one without charge. Wahoo!

Unfortunately, that also meant that I had to wait for the new one to arrive. Not wahoo.

So, I took all my stuff, meaning laptop and pillows and doggies and moved into another room to camp out there for my daily naps, where we had a small TV that only received a few local channels.

No big deal, you say?

But, but, but.........I always watch.......and then after that this comes on.......and if nothing else I always have the news channel on because what if something big happened somewhere in the world.......

Well, hey now. (Julia slaps herself upside the head). Could I be somewhat addicted to that never ending source of babble and images? Me? What? No, never.

Heck, yeah.

That television wasn't even worth turning on since I don't do soap operas or Sesame Street these days. Instead, during my down times, I read or actually napped. And remarkably, I became accustomed to and even began to enjoy the quiet as I went about my daily routine. After a few days I noticed that after being unwillingly placed in a quiet environment, when I did go to a place where there was incessant noise of any kind I responded to all that stimulus by feeling that my nerves were on edge. I felt impatient, even a bit anxious. When I escaped to quiet, I felt much calmer and refreshed.

It was an interesting environmental change experiment forced upon me by broken technology. But in retrospect, I could see how my response to noise and what some physicians call "noxious stimulus" - love that phrase - has evolved over that past years.

Mark it up to age, or menopause, the Sjogren's-caused tinnitus ringing in my ears, or whatever, after a lifetime filled with noise during every waking moment, I have found myself tolerating attention-demanding stimulus less effectively. My ability to triage the importance of all that noise has decreased over the last few years. Or, to state it more accurately, I find myself blurting, "WILL you turn that stupid [TV/stereo/dogs barking/power saw/lawn mower/bathroom fan/vacuum cleaner/video game] OFF????"

I wish I could say that as a result of this little week-long episode I have adopted a zen like quietness as the norm in our house. That new receiver works too well and brings in too many tempting channels to remain turned off indefinitely. But I do find myself being more particular about what kinds of noise I surround myself with. Yes, I am becoming much more selective.

I think The Price Is Right brings some meaningful value to each day, don't you? Come On Down!!

Image of television above by miamiamia


@GNN said...

My family think i am crazy - if you have blocked ears and ringing in your ears WHY do you need the TV turned down?? So good to read your post. They say I have Sjogren's. "That is pronounced Show grins but I must say I don't have many grins to show this afternoon. Afternoons are usually the worst." I posted about it in April 2007. Check it out here if you wish
I also have a website about it
Keep on blogging

Wendy said...

Well we did take the plunge, Julie, and are now TV-free. About 3 months ago, we ditched the monster. No more big, ugly, hulking box in the corner. The livingroom is an oasis of serenity. Pandora radio music plays softly. We find we suddenly have the time to enjoy good books and read all those great magazines we pay for. News comes from the paper and the Internet. We listen to interesting podcasts. We get out more to community events--lectures, concerts, etc., and are more involved too--hubby does yoga (ouch!), I do my master naturalist thing. We get projects done faster too (sewing gifts, enclosing a porch). This change has utterly transformed our lives, in a good way. Thanks for "airing" this topic!

Julia Oleinik said...

Hi Wendy - All kidding aside - who, me? Kid around? - I really do not watch TV as much as I used to. Maybe someday we will take the plunge, as you have. Sounds as though you and your husband are making some very healthy choices in your lifestyle!

Wendy said...

Trying to, Julie! Forgot to make my main point though, which is that TV is often, as you pointed out, very stress-inducing. Now how is that good for auto-immune disease?! "News-as-entertainment" is a big culprit. "Breaking news", "developing stories", etc.--all are designed to elevate those stress hormones and keep you hooked for the almightly advertisers. Do we really need this stuff? I read once that humans evolved in smaller communities where basically all news was of immediate concern, since you only tended to hear about nearby events. So we have a natural reaction of heightened vigilance over bad news. Nowadays we get satellite news from all over. But our brains still fire the adrenaline pumps as if these things were happening in the next village! Since stress is such a big autoimmune trigger for me, I choose to pass on the barrage of bad news. It often means seeking out a quiet corner to wait AWAY from the TV, at airports, hospitals, doctor's offices, car service depts., etc., then if necessary telling the receptionist where to find me and WHY. Sheesh. Thanks for letting me vent!