ESPN carefully plans their broadcasts to avoid even one second of silence. Speakers talk quickly in turn. Crowd noise fills in the gaps. Music plays during transitions.

What is the opposite of white noise? It seems science is not particularly clear on this.

White noise is a steady hiss that our brains do not interpret to have order or meaning. Many people use it to help go to sleep. It's almost as good as silence itself and can be used as a substitute where we can't eliminate ambient noise.

I say the opposite of white noise is the orderly but continuous stream of sound meant to affect our mood and perceptions that we hear from our televisions or the loud speakers of a live sporting event. It's the advertisements, the cheerleaders, the quick clips from pop songs, the laugh tracks. The people who purvey such products never want a moment of silence. Events and sounds are carefully scheduled so there can never be peace. It's choreographed noise. They want to use every moment to sell us things, generate "energy" in the audience, and affect our mood and attitude, for example to create an exciting environment for a basketball game.

The older I get, the more difficult I find it to tolerate the continuous stream of noise.

I think society would be better if we valued silence more. Of course, people have been saying that for centuries (millennia?). It seems that noise is as desirable to at least as many of us humans as silence. The problem is that noise can cancel silence, but silence can't cancel noise.


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