I find it difficult to work in my downstairs office without the dehumidifier running. Before that it was my UPS (Uninterruptible Power Source) which I kept plugged in with the fan running long after I got rid of my desktops. At work it’s the overhead fans, and at night it’s the noise machine. Though I’m happy to have made it through the summer without the need for the window air-conditioning unit, I miss it’s roar and rattle whenever it would fire up. I listen to the radio, or an audiobook on my commute, and I hate working in libraries unless there is low level chatter going on around me.
I’m uncomfortable and unproductive in silence.
Part of the explanation I give myself is that having some white noise allows me to tune out all of the other distracting noises. Music certainly fulfills this function, but any good low whir will do. And places with conversations can be good both as white noise and productive distraction. “I wasn’t dropping no eaves, I swear”.
One of my favorite overheard bits that I actually wrote down: “My boyfriend just lost his Second Life virginity.” So many possibilities.
It doesn’t have to be artificial noise. I love rain on the rooftop, wind through the windows, and the rustling of leaves in the trees. One of my favorite places is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, walking through thick forests. Contemplative I can do, but utter quiet drives me bonkers. I am an otherwise introverted person. Silence probably the one thing that can disrupt my writing more than an uncomfortable chair, bad lighting, technology I have to fight.
I need some kind of sound to work.
It’s weird having that dependency. It feels like something born out of our over-connected technology age of twenty-four hour news cycles, constant twitter updates, and phones on our hips. But I don’t think it’s something that’s just going to change just because I think the habit is a result of the downfall of society. I don’t actually think that by the way. At worst I think it’s a quirk, something I’ve learned about myself that I don’t always like, but know how to live with.
Other people need the lights just right, their back perfectly supported, their lucky pen. It’s better to know your quirks and your habits, than to be left wondering why some days work better than others or the feeling that something is bothering you and you don’t quite know what it is.