Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I Can't Hear You, You're Talking Too Loud

Summer has rolled in, slowly but surely, and that means a farkle-change for my trusty motorcycle.  Farkles are, of course, those little aftermarket add ons that improve a bike.

As mine's a VStrom 650, the most practical and versatile bike in the known universe, my farkles are of the rational sort.  There's a tall windscreen for keeping the snow and rain from impacting my body in the winter.  There are heated grips and plugs for heated garments to keep me toasty, or at least stave off frostbite in the -15 wind chills out there on the highway in the dead of January.  There are handguards to route the cold air away from extremities.  Stuff like that.

But with summer, that changes.  The big screen comes off, so that air can move more freely around me, and a smaller stock screen goes back on.  The hand guards come off.

That means, with all that airflow change, that my world gets a lot louder.   My effective but inexpensive full-face helmet howls through the atmosphere.  There's nothing but noise, overwhelming, immense noise.

There is so much noise that I can't hear anything at all.

This is not a good thing.  I need to hear.  I need to hear sirens and horns.  I need to be able to hear people talking to me afterwards.

And so into my ears go earplugs.

I am choosing to hear less, so that I can hear more.  Having less input helps me make out the signal, and to weed out the noise.  It also makes sure I'm not deafened, as my traumatized inner ear simply shuts down.

I wonder, in this net-culture where information howls by us and through us in an unfiltered hurricane roar, if maybe we might need this.  There's too much, a relentless outpouring of data, so much so that it gets harder and harder to pick out what's important.  It all calls for our attention, all of it, as we get louder and louder and better and better and pressing those loud buttons.

Panic! Conflict! Urgency! Click here! Danger! Sex! Violence! Click here!

Louder and louder it gets, and I wonder if we're able to hear anything at all.