Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Television Noise Can Be Detrimental to One's Sanity

Today I went to my dentist located in West Akron, Ohio.

My dentist and his staff are absolutely great and try to make their patients feel comfortable.

A patient walks into the office and is provided a selection of gourmet coffees, teas or water!

In the dental office, there are choices of the normal magazines, but they also provide current hot off the press morning newspapers: The Akron Beacon Journal, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and The Wall Street Journal.

Sky blue metallic wallpaper with streaks of purple and silver grace the spacious large office waiting room. Imbedded in three of the walls of the waiting room, there are 3 large salt-water aquariums. Each aquarium has healthy fish specimens and corals, which have colors which appear to have been picked to match the wall paper colors.

The examination rooms are as attractive as the office waiting rooms. Each room has a pastel colored wall to match the blue schemes of the lobby and each room has a hanging matted art print of colorful tropical fish.

Above each dental chair there is a flat screen television. The patient can select any program from the different cable stations to view to reduce boredom or anxiety as he waits for the hygienist or doctor to appear. If you so wish, the television may remain on during the dental procedure.

In short, a first class operation to reduce the fears of people who fear dental work.

However, when asked if I want the television on, I always graciously decline.
After my teeth were painlessly  cleaned and I was reminded to floss more often, I went over to our local mall to celebrate with a good old fashion teeth yellowing cup of coffee.

As with most malls, Summit Mall has a large restaurant-dining courtyard. With about 10 fast food restaurants and a daily crowd of hundreds of shoppers and eaters, the dining area is a noisy place to eat. As I was drinking my cup of coffee, I looked up and saw a flat screen television set hanging down from the ceiling so a person could watch television as people buzzed about you.

As I saw the suspended mall television, I realized that I have reached the point incessant noise bothers me particularly from television sets. Now, I like television---hell many of my ideas come from television---but I choose television viewing in small selective doses. For me, a constant television noise is not soothing and in fact it is down right irritating.
After I left and was driving home, without my car radio on--- I pondered what I was to write about. It occurred to me that perhaps we Americans become so addicted to our television and internet that we need to have these services everywhere to just function. Television sets in dental offices, noisy shopping malls, and even in some cars and vans makes me wonder if that there may be many people who need noise just to function and thrive creatively, whereas others like myself become extremely irritated.

Have we lost the ability to appreciate a truly quiet environment or does my intolerance to human produced noise just a symptom of my aging.

When I went to college, I could not study with the television set on. However, in stark contrast, my Ohio State nephew who maintains a high GPA maintains he actually studies better with a television set on or listening to his I-pod.

I know people who have their television sets on all day. When I  come over to visit, the television is still blaring---and they seem annoyed when I cannot follow their conversation. After realizing the television is more important to them than one on one conversation, I finally give up trying to talk over the noise,  I shut up and watch the same show they are viewing. The art of conversation has ended.   Sadly, I realize I no longer have the youthful ability to multi-task: view, listen, watch, and converse over the hum of a large screen television.

Thinking that perhaps I was incredibly unique, I decided to checkout if my intolerance to television noise levels was necessarily strange. Was I abnormal or somewhat crazed to become irritated when I walk into a room with a television set blaring?

Well, turns out the consistent noise of a television or music can be indeed be detrimental to some of our mental and physical healths. There are many articles out there describing that there are indeed ill physical and mental health effects of continued noise bombardment.

After surfing on the web, I learned that:

  • People can suffer from noise anxiety of constant televisions, radios, and stereos blaring. People with noise anxiety, a constant noise in fact increases depression in those people
  • Continual noise can manifest itself to many of us as increased irritability, moodiness, crying fits, emotional eating and jangled nerves. Ultimately prolonged exposure to uncontrollable noise can result in chronic free-floating anxiety and/or depression. (For the record, television noise does not lead me into crying! However, I am very irritable in the morning and need absolute silence as I chug down my cup of coffee.)
  • There are some studies which suggest that adults who watched a great deal of television as adolescents had a higher predisposition to depression than those who did not view as much television when growing up. The type of programming selected, as youngsters also appeared to have impacted these younger adults’ moods.
After reading those articles, I felt a bit less crazy. I realized that I am not alone regarding how the constant noise of television probably impacts my mood far greater than I had ever realized.


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