Quiet please

Noise canceling headphones, quite car interiors, silent retreats—there is a big move toward quality, high-end quiet. Silence has always been valuable, but increasingly, people are showing that they are willing to pay for it. Chloe Schama discusses in the New Republic why silence is becoming a luxury product.

Unwanted noise is perhaps the most irksome form of sensory assault. A bothersome sight? Close your eyes or turn the other way—eyesores are, generally, immobile. An annoying taste? Spit it out. (Why was it in your mouth?) Sound, on the other hand, is ambient, elusive, enveloping. Even the softest drone can echo cacophonously if it worms itself into your head.

For silence—as in many areas of modern life—technology both causes the problem and provides the solution.

Technology has both increased our perceived need for silence and created (or at least improved) the means of attaining it. We’re assaulted by incessant technological “noise” and reliant on technology to control it. We’re battered by a ceaseless stream of emails and memos and tweets and status updates, but we plug into the latest iPod to tune it out.

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