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Steamboat Magazine

A World Without Silence

06/27/2019 09:43AM ● By Alesha Damerville

Photo credit: Dean Hochman on / CC BY

By Alesha Damerville

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – No matter the activity I’m participating in, music is at the forefront and always a welcome component. While most people I know can agree with this statement, I have met people throughout my life who have said that they don’t really like music. 

This concept completely takes me aback. There are really people who don’t care for music.

The idea that there are people who go entire days, weeks even, without listening to a song takes my mind to a few different places. 

First, is it weird that the moment I find out someone doesn’t like music, I feel immediately disconnected? These people almost feel like social pariahs to me. Who doesn’t like music? An even better question: who doesn’t need music?

Second, is listening to too much music a possibility? I struggle with seeing how, yet this isn’t the first time this question has circled in my mind. It’s fair to say that I have music playing at least 10 hours a day. The more I think of it, the more I realize, I don’t allow silence in my life.

Third, when I’m not listening to music, I’m streaming a show. Even come bedtime, no silence. I usually turn on a fan and put on a guided sleep meditation, followed by a rain app. This realization has me questioning … how important is it to make time for silence in our current world? How do we even achieve it? 

After pondering this subject for a while, I’ve concluded that the only times when I have the opportunity to experience silence is when I’m in nature. Camping, I sleep comfortably with only natural sounds surrounding me. However, therein lies the conflicting idea that natural sounds aren’t technically silence.  

In the recent years, terminology has been coined to describe those who have the inability to enjoy music and it turns out, it’s actually a neurological condition called musical anhedonia. People with this condition have limited patterns of connectivity between the auditory, emotion and reward centers of the brain.

Conclusion: people who don’t like music are built that way, so I could make more of an effort to understand when encountering these mythic creatures. 

Psychologists found that people who are able to sleep in silence are people who are more comfortable with silence than their counterparts. What makes one more comfortable with silence than another? And why aren’t I? 

Do we ever have the opportunity to experience noiselessness? Road noise, appliances/electronics and the sounds of nature are ever present in our lives, with no indication of this changing anytime soon. Is ambient noise the closest thing we have to experiencing silence in the modern world?

Evidence of the love of music dates back over 250,000 years. The idea that, for centuries, music has been used as a tool for human betterment is rather refreshing. Music sparks self-awareness and expresses feeling. 

Music heightens arousal and mood. It offers a means to escape for those stuck in unhealthy thought patterns, and a way to bond with diverse groups of people, which, in our social media driven world, is a nice outlet to have. 

So, what started as a blog post with a workout playlist has evolved into this piece that leaves me wondering … have we ever experienced complete silence? I find the fact that we the lack the absence of silence an interesting one. It took me nearly 35 years to come to this revelation. 

Here is what I know – religiously listening to music is at the top of the list of things that make me happy. That’s living my truth. 

Source: Frontiers in Psychology,

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