I live alone so am probably a lot more accustomed to the ‘quiet’ than those with tantrumy toddlers or rowdy teens.
We often hear about the negatives of living in a world of constant noise and activity and how it adds to our stress levels. Most of us have a smart phone or other device surgically-attached 24/7. We’re constantly contactable and at the behest of a ringing phone, beeping email arrivals or pings to let us know we have a Facebook update. We’re constantly ‘on’ or at least ‘ready’.
It occurred to me yesterday however, that technology’s intrusion into our lives is infiltrated by far more than the usual suspects (ie. mobile phones and internet).
After being beset by a myriad of beeping before 7am, I found myself contemplating the balance between technological advances which help us and make life easier; and those which mean we’re constantly on the go or in a state of highly-charged awareness.
Within a short timeframe yesterday I was ‘beckoned’ by several household appliances. And in the quiet of my apartment, those appliances and their attention-seeking behaviours are even more intrusive.
It started with the bloody fire alarm in the apartment complex. Thankfully we don’t have false alarms TOO regularly but a disembodied voice booming EVACUATE from my ceiling is never a good start to the day (remember my Daleks post!). Knowing burnt toast was most likely the culprit I didn’t even bother heading down to our gathering point, rather I just stuck my head over my verandah to confirm my assumption.
Although it was early (for me) I decided get a jump on the day and got stuck into some chores. (Yay me!)
The microwave was the next offender – beeping at me because the bacon and egg combo was ready. Then the toaster joined in once it ejected my gluten-free bread roll. And just as I’d started attending to the demands of my kitchen appliances a beeping sound came from my laundry signifying my washing was ready to be dealt with.
And then I get in my car and the sensors go crazy because I have to park in a tiny space and my car KNOWS I’m too close to everything around me!
I don’t actually mind that my toast is ready or my microwaved food prepared or washing finished. Nor do I mind a reminder of sorts that my fridge door has been left open for too long – and so forth – but once upon a time we didn’t have such reminders and we still managed to survive. Back in the 1970s (or indeed even the 80s) our lives didn’t function at the behest of beeping appliances. Our washing finished without letting us know. We could stand at the refrigerator for minutes without setting off alarms AND our toast either popped up or burnt.
It’s not that I mind the safeguards either. Smoke alarms are lifesavers and the beeping fridge DOES mean we don’t accidentally leave the door open all day – spoiling precious food.
However, at the same time I have to admit the constant sounds and warnings can be intrusive. It means we need to be constantly in a state of awareness and at the ready. We’re constantly ‘on’. Although I have outside traffic and neighbours to deal with, the usual quiet of my apartment means that noises from inside are particularly noticeable.
In all seriousness, being constantly plagued by things wanting our attention (many of which are not urgent!) can add to the stress that most of us are already under. Indeed, despite the fact I’m no longer rushing about in the morning, I find it hard to ignore a beeping appliance and often ‘startle’ a little with every new sound.
However, while we can’t change everything in our environment (my building’s smoke alarms come to mind!) we can control and minimise some of them.
When buying my last microwave oven I stayed away from those which continue to beep if you don’t open the door immediately after the cooking time has lapsed (my previous one did this and I’d be lying in the bath upstairs and every few minutes heard a petulant ‘beeeep beeeeep’ – like a child screaming for attention). I’m due for a new fridge soon and – if possible – I’m going to buy one that doesn’t shout at me if the door’s left open.
For some time now I’ve been very zen about my phones. In my previous apartment I didn’t have a home phone and only answered my mobile phone if I knew who was calling. I didn’t carry it with me all of the time – so often it was on the middle floor when I was on the top floor. #Meh
Even now, my mobile phone barely works in my new apartment and because it’s so crappy I can’t turn off the internet notifications (email, Twitter, Facebook) without also turning off the SMS notifications. As a result my phone is almost permanently on silent and I just remind myself to check it several times a day for any calls or messages.
I love that I’m not at the beck and call of my phone. For a change.
In many of my previous jobs I had to constantly monitor my emails (Ministers’ staff never seem to sleep!).
I must confess (although I’m not working) I’m still pretty anal about monitoring incoming emails, but… less-so about dealing with them nowadays.
My working world is all online so it’s hard to make significant changes there, but I’ve turned off all Twitter and Facebook notifications so – even if online I don’t know if someone’s responded to commented on something I’ve said. And if I’m trying to concentrate on writing, I’ll often turn my internet off completely so I’m not tempted to check my accounts. #Ommmm
#MovingForward As for my plan to continue to live in a more zen-like environment: while there’s not a lot I can do about my existing kitchen appliances and dependence on the virtual world; I can continue to change the obvious – spend more time offline and less at the behest of technology.
#Inothernews I’m thinking of petitioning my building’s body corporate to see if we can re-record the ‘EVACUATE’ recording in more-soothing tones. A calming female voice encouraging us to leave the building sounds about right. “Hello friends, moving in your own time, you may wish to leave the building. Namaste.”
Any other suggestions?
Do your appliances beep? Do you hate it?