Okay so I gotta comment on this.
First off it was a great podcast, and I had a lot of fun listening to everyone's ideas. I took notes during it concerning my thoughts and feelings because I value quiet and silence a lot.
Okay so I hope its okay to go through these notes here while they are still fresh!
Ear plugs. I wear ear plugs. Not just to bed, walking around my house I wear ear plugs. My wife (who currently is in China) likes to have background noise, she likes the television on, having a podcast going or music.
I also enjoy those things, but only for an allocated period of time and only when I can pay attention to them.
I wear earplugs because I feel so overwhelmed by the sounds around me all the time that I often become very emotionally distressed and irritable at constant noise. Even with my wife away, I wear them around because I find the sound of the motor on our refrigerator grating, and now that winter has started, our forced air furnace is a monster waiting to push against my ear drum.
kleinbl00 put a nice little thought in there about how people like to use sound to feel safe and secure. Evolutionarily he might be very correct. But if we couldn't hear, would we be more afraid? Birds in particular for his example are nice because they use hearing as a primary sense.
But is that the reason that so many people are uncomfortable with silence?
I think it's only part of the story. I think people are uncomfortable with being by themselves and this to some extent leads them to want noise as a distraction from having to confront that.
Which brings me to the next point. Quiet in groups.
People should be quiet in groups more often. They should try to stare into someone else's eyes while not saying any words. They should try to communicate without using grand gestures. When you practice doing this it becomes quite interesting, you start to realize that emotions are very easy to communicate, but objects and verbs are very difficult. Being quiet in a group, and practicing it actively helps (at least me) be more empathetic.
When mk was talking about the vast middle of America and how quiet it could be all I could think about was my time in Alaska. There are places there and times where of course there would be sound, but it was ambient and slow and always in the background. It was wonderful some nights to go outside the village and look at the northern lights and reflect upon the moments that lead one to look at those lights. Now that I am back in a larger civilization, it's very jarring sometimes to even go to dinner and have a bunch of television sets and music at volumes exceeding those that we'd be able to have a conversation at. I would rather not go out if it means that I am going to be subjected to so much non-interactive stimuli.
Anyway, I have typed this entirely in a room with no lights on and put my ear plugs back in but I wanted to just throw in a bit of a different perspective of someone who actively seeks out silence and quiet. I hope it adds something to someone somewhere :D.