From The Telegraph:
Loudness isn’t all bad and silence can be deathly. A padded cell would be more terrifying than the roar over Heathrow, and deafness is well known to be more alienating than blindness. Noise is invigorating: it wakes us up and warns us of danger. There are millions like Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel who delight in turning the volume up to 11 as they listen to heavy metal and hip hop.
Mother Nature seems to agree: she abhors silence. The explosion of Krakatoa was heard 3,000 miles away, and the peace of the countryside is an urban myth: rushing water, the dawn chorus, mating animals or a storm are far noisier than the hum of traffic. Another myth is the peace of the past. Blacksmiths, horses’ hooves on cobbles and hawkers made a filthy racket in the pre-industrial city. Whenever I am tempted to rip that wretched iPod from a teenage ear, I remind myself of the ghetto-blasters and transistor radios a generation ago. Manual typewriters clattered far louder than computer keyboards. Yet noise is a terrible problem in the modern world, and one salutes both George Prochnik and Garret Keizer for proselytising on behalf of a bit more hush. Although they both write from the United States, the noisiest country in the world, and inevitably cover a lot of the same ground, their approaches are different and complementary.