Why exposure to noise is toxic

2020-03-19 @Lifestyle

Exposure to constant noise is plain toxic. By noise, I naturally mean news updates, financial updates, gossip, promotion, and (alas) mostly any unsolicited commentary.

This sort of exposure causes individuals to severely distort their conception of reality, especially with news propagators in place of authority.

And it doesn’t demand much for a figure to be construed as authority. It only requires some loose media affiliation, a well-fitted suit, a tie, and minimal oratorical finesse.

There are three elements that tend to occur in succession:

  1. The event
  2. Our projections of the event
  3. The emotions and meaning we attach to those projections

The grand majority of events are recurring. They’ve occurred hundreds, thousands, or 10X of times (pick your X) throughout history.

As a child, you have fallen, scratched your knee, and broken into tears. You probably experienced this dozens of times.

Eventually you get used to it. The next fall, you shrug it off, get up and continue. Eventually, you hardly react.

Granted, your body still gives manifest to predictable consequences. It exposes the wound, possibly spills some blood, and transmits a signal via the pain sensors. Academic.

If you don’t treat the wound, you face an elevated risk of infection. In such an event, if you still don’t treat it, and usually with something more potent (naturally or chemically produced antibiotics), something further grave may occur, although likely still be treatable via surgery. Death is a possibility, albeit small.

As you can see, there’s a sequence of events that must take place for that whatever grave thing to occur: A->B->C->D. Each carries a distinct conditional probability: probability of B given A, C given B, … However, the absolute (joint) probability of D (conditioned on nothing), or even D conditioned on just A, is usually astronomically small.

Those are the events. Millions of such successions of events with their respective probabilities occur throughout space and time.

Now imagine if a group of journalists decided to sensationalize these falls, scratches, wounds and the related consequences; if they decided to focus most of their attention precisely on these phenomena.

They would comment on the worldwide cases of individuals losing their limbs or dying from untreated wounds. Such cases probably number quiet a lot, or enough to make a sensation out of it. This is natural, since billions of people occupy the planet, so finding a number of cases with enough digits isn’t a challenge.

The would show children in tears. They would broadcast operating rooms, or at least hospital receptions. They would showcase photographs of untreated wounds in their state of rot and decomposition.

They would cite scientific material concerning these unfortunate cases at full medical gore. They would appeal to doctors and pharmaceutical company lobbyists, this enhancing the sense of authority and apprehension.

This would become the topic of the day, every day, for weeks or more. Daily noise consumers would devour this content like refined sugar.

They would grow tense, fearful, overly cautious and somewhat paranoid. They would talk among themselves, everywhere, all the time, further spreading and self-reinforcing elements of tension, fear, caution, and varying degrees of paranoia.

The journalists, consequently, would capitalize on this massive paranoia in their broadcasts, although in various clever ways to give increased sense of authority.

It would create revenue for the media, certain medical groups, the pharmaceuticals, and all involved affiliates. The worldwide panic would result in a massive slump in the overall financial market. This would cause further panic and slump.

Many will lose a fortune because they sell low. Many will regain it because they don’t bother panicking and reacting at every such tempest.

Many will gain a fortune in options trading, betting for the market collapse. Many will do nothing and remain hardly impacted in the long term, not fluctuating hither or thither.

The media, naturally, will focus attention on the most unfortunate cases of financial collapse, as those are the bestsellers. Granted, they will project these cases academically, neutrally, with a convincing air of disinterested authority.

Most of the stuff has occurred before; perhaps daily or weekly, perhaps yearly, or perhaps bi-centennially. Small fluctuations in the order of things occur daily; larger fluctuations in sparser intervals. And yet, fluctuations are continuous.

If you observe the fluctuations with a magnifying glass, you will see huge spikes and perceive much chaos and turmoil. Therein emotions become your greatest liability.

If you zoom out several notches and view history more coarsely, you will see mostly smoothness (or small spikes) interspersed with occasional severe fluctuations.

But daily sensationalists love the magnified view of each continuous shift, broadcasting largely noise. And it sells … like that refined sugar. And fear propagates.

Reflect on this related thought: our species has endured for tens of thousands of years. All this stuff has already occurred; in myriads.

Your life, your entire generation is but a microscopic speck of dust in the vast expanse of space and time. The notion, at least for me, has helped immensely in keeping emotionally calm and clear-minded.

For the conclusion:

The more we expose ourselves to noise, the more we form misconstrued projections of the reality we occupy, the more negative emotional feedback we cultivate, and the more we impress our projections upon others, resulting in an ever-vicious cycle of noise toxicity.

Questions, comments? Connect.