Moss, is humor writer from Tennessee. She writes a
weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny
things that happen to everyone.
She has written for the Daily News of Kingsport, Griffin Journal,
Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton
Advocate, and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News
Journal. She has been
published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks
at Guidepost Books. Her articles have appeared in
numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.
She is a
former board member and past Editor of the Columnists.com, website of the National Society of Newspaper
oldest and largest professional organization
for columnists. She is the Web Editor of
Humorists.com and a founder of the Southern Humorists writers'
organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of HumorColumnist.com.
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Online Since 1999
to the new open office plan at our office, we have something
new to gripe about besides each other. You see, experts have
discovered that with an open office plan, you can not only see
each other, you can also hear each other. What a surprise!
Experts came up with a way to overcome this little
distraction. It's called "white noise." We are not
exactly sure where it is coming from. For all we know space
aliens may have brought it from another planet. It certainly
sounds like something from out of this world.
All day long we are subjected to this whistling sound in the
background that blurs out any other noise. No longer do hear
our neighbor chattering on the phone, clicking the keyboard,
or complaining about too much work.
Funny, most of us had never even heard of white noise and now
we have it. It came with the modernization, like manna from
heaven. We spend our time around the water cooler speculating
on what the white noise sounds like. "It sounds like an
air blower at high speed," says one person. "I think
it is like being on an airplane," says another. "It
sounds like what you hear in a seashell when you
listen for the sound of the ocean," says someone else. Of
course, the bottom line is that it sounds like... well...
It seems people complain if the sound is loud, so it starts
out low and day by day the volume increases until it reaches
the highest level. The theory is that if it is gradual enough,
no one will notice. It is similar to the frog story. If you
put a frog in water and gradually increase the temperature,
you can bring it to boiling without killing the frog. I don't
know if that is true, but I do know that we are boiling in
When people talk to me, I can see their lips moving, but I
can't hear what they are saying. "Huh?" It is like
working in a ticket office where you are separated from the
rest of the world by an invisible pane of glass, or in a
filling station in a bad neighborhood with bullet-proof glass
to keep the bad guys out.
The white noise is not supposed to be harmful in any way. It
is supposed to reduce stress and help workers avoid
distractions and be more productive. We suspect it might be a
sinister plot to control our brains and are considering
getting tin-foil hats to keep the white noise waves from
Noise is not considered noise pollution until it reaches a
certain level where noise is more than merely annoying and
actually harmful to your health, like the noise from
airplanes, jack hammers, fireworks, or your kids playing rock
music. The idea is that it should be loud enough to
"mask" other sounds without being loud enough to
create a noise distraction of its own.
When you search for information on the internet, most of the
results are about how to make white noise, not how to deal
with it. People use it in the nursery to help fussy babies
sleep and it actually works. Now I know why I am so sleepy
lately. We are supposed to be more productive, but instead we
are yawning and finding it difficult to stay awake in our
glass cocoons with the soothing sound surrounding us.
As I understand it, the open office plan is intended to
improve communication. White noise is intended to mask the
excessive noise from our improved communication. But, everyone
just kicks it up a notch to be heard over the white noise. It
seems self-defeating to me, but obviously I am out of touch
As far as I'm concerned, the best color noise of all is still
the old-fashioned sound of silence.
Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss
Nashville, TN 37219
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