Montana State University Billings Behind Silence Essay Reflection Read the attached essay “behind silence” and write a 2 page reflection following the prom

Montana State University Billings Behind Silence Essay Reflection Read the attached essay “behind silence” and write a 2 page reflection following the prompts. Name 1
Behind Silence
The concept of silence has been a prevalent since ancient times and has been affected by
several things. One of the major influences on silence over the years has been the emergence and
predominance of technology around the globe. Before the society evolved into the current
technologically meditated one, silence was regarded as a very important aspect. Before electronic
devices took over the world, sound was considered very short-lived or brief, as it was connected
to its source and lasted for only a brief period. However, modern technology has come up with a
way to manipulate sound by separating it from its source and making it permanent. For silence to
prevail, there has to be the absence of sound. (Franklin 1) This, therefore, means that silence is
often affected by the same technological advancements which have found ways to manipulate
sound and separate it from its source, making it available anywhere at any time depending on the
needs of the listener.
People value silence because it is an enabling environment. It creates an environment in
which people can practice slice-related activities such as meditation and worship. People can find
their inner spiritual or peaceful selves only in an environment dominated by silence and devoid of
sound. In the modern world, it has become very challenging to avoid sound and maintain one’s
personal silence. If it is not at the mall or in public transportation, then it is the next-door neighbor
banging one’s ears with music that is too loud for comfort. Franklinclaims that the people’s right
to silence is being taken away by the privatization of the soundscape. The silence that people need
to engage in productive activities is gradually being privatized, and as technology continues to
advance, so does silence diminish (Franklin 3). This paper will explore the influence of
technological advancements on silence, as well as the suggestions or a way forward to ensure that
people can protect their rights.
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While technology is developing, silence is diminishing. Franklin gives several arguments
to support this notion in her piece ‘Silence and the Notion of the Commons.’ Franklin is a wellknown philosopher who has established herself with works in the field of technology and how it
affects society and its several aspects. Her background in materials and their use led her to shift
her focus to technology and its power in shaping human culture. She considered technology a
complex system of mindsets, methods, and procedures, and not just a bunch of gadgets and
machines (Raymond). Through this holistic view of technology and technological gadgets, she
coined the notion that “our present technological trends drive us toward a decrease in the space be it in the soundscape, in the landscape, and in the mindscape -for the unplanned and unplannable
to happen” (Franklin 2). By this, she means that the increasing presence of technological gadgets
which have the capacity of manipulating sound and separating it from its source to distribute it
everywhere has spelled the elimination of silence in almost every place around the globe. She
further brings up the concern that silence is the core of our sanity, not just our individual sanity
but our collective sanity (Franklin 2). Therefore, the increasing abundance of silence-eliminating
technological or electronic gadgets means that our sanity is threatened. iPods, headphones, and
even loudspeakers are everywhere now; meaning that silence has become as rare as electronic
sound was during the ancient times.
Technology doesn’t always influence silence directly, as Franklin argues. Sometimes, the
elimination of silence by technological advancements comes in a different way: the reduced
attention to nature. Franklin mentions that as technology develops, people put less attention to
nature. (Franklin 1) Nature has often been associated with peace and silence. Even though the
sound of animals and birds in nature doesn’t necessarily signify the absence of sound that Franklin
claims to the major catalyst of silence, it provides a different sense of peaceful feeling that can
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only be achieved in a silent environment. Most people often go into nature whenever they need
peace and quiet. Forests, waterfalls, and wildlife are perfect natural environments that generate the
‘silence’ that keeps most people sane by giving them a getaway from the noisy streets and
workplaces. However, the emergence of technology has increasingly reduced people’s interaction
with nature. Millennials have become too engrossed by the screens of their cellphones and
technological gadgets to pay attention to the beauty and silence of nature. In his publication on the
New York Times, Michael Pollan claims that the word ‘natural’ refers to “a word of praise for all
that humanity hasn’t contaminated” (Pollan). He means ‘natural’ nature, where technology has not
ventured or interfered with. Indeed, technology dictates our lives, and since most of the
technological devices or electronics produce, manipulate, mix, or reproduce sound, they are an
enemy of silence. As technology develops, people obtain less opportunity, or they are less likely
to go into nature and enjoy silence. They also neglect the fact that silence is part of nature. Thus,
Pollan indicates in his article that “Nature, if you believe in human exceptionalism, is over”
(Pollan). Therefore, the more people disregard nature, the more technology eliminates silence.
As Franklin mentioned, silence doesn’t only have one definition: the absence of sound.
There is a form of silence that she refers to as the silence of contemplation; the silence where
people get in touch with themselves (Franklin 1). This kind of silence is also diminishing with the
development of technology. It is commonly referred to as the silence of the human mind; the peace
of mind. With the increasing technological noise, people are becoming less stable and calm. As
Franklin mentions, “Silence is being taken out of common availability” (Franklin 3). There are
several noise sources such as traffic noises, construction noises, and loud music and commotions
in malls and other public places. However, the most stressful source of noise that can make people
become less calm and stable is the noise that emanates from the workplace. Escaping workplace
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noise if often next to impossible, and people have to endure these noises each day they go to work.
The lack of silence can adversely affect the silence of the human mind. One cannot get in touch
with himself or herself in an environment that is not enabling of such desires. The effects of such
noisy environments often lead to blunders and errors in completing individual and collective tasks.
People have to be in the right state of mind to make informed decisions, and this state of mind can
only be achieved by an enabling environment based on silence and devoid of sound or noise. When
individuals are not at peace, or when they have not achieved the silence of the mind because of too
much noise, they are bound to make blunders and bad decisions (Thaler & Sustein 10).
The decision-making process is often influenced by several factors: one of the main ones
being silence. According to Thaler and Sunstein, “human beings do a terrific job of making
choices, and if not terrific, certainly better than anyone else would do” (Thaler & Sunstein 164).
User-friendly environments are essential in fulfilling the need to maintain silence. These
environments further help in making better decisions by ensuring that they eliminate the stressors
that usually make people uneasy such as noise. Silence seems to eliminate all the other factors that
influence decision making or even keep them at a constant and non-altering state. When we have
a silent environment, we do not need corporate, political, or social nudges to make decisions. Being
in such an enabling environment ensures a peaceful state of mind that eliminates all the limitations
to sound decision making. Therefore, the presence of too much noise generated by technology,
which is a guarantee in modern society, causes people to make uninformed and poor choices with
detrimental impacts to their lives as well as the lives and freedoms of others. People need to put
collectivity before individual needs when they make decisions. Just like what Franklin says: “This
is a time when one say: town planning knows the constraints of land use, density and scale, but
what does town planning have to say about silence?” (Franklin 3). Perhaps this is why the
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government often feels the need to intervene and come up with policies that end up curtailing the
freedoms and liberties of people more often than not.
The freedom of making choices, especially regarding one’s right to enjoy a peaceful and
silent environment, has recently been curtailed by several policies which allow people to make
noises in certain places at certain times without considering the effects of these noises on other
people. Therefore, the assumption of Thaler and Sunstein that people often make choices that are
in their best interests and are better than the ones that are made by other people is flawed. Beausire
states that silence has been linked to various quality life indicators like lowered anxiety, mental
acuity, as well as better sleep, which further proves that all human beings require silence to fully
function. (Beausire 1) Hence, as human beings in society, we have a right to silence. We have a
right “not to be assaulted by sound that is there solely for the purpose of profit” (Franklin 3). There
are no public buildings with quiet rooms anymore, except in hospitals. Yet, the government seems
to ignore the significance of silence to our sanity and enacts policies that clearly interfere with our
rights to enjoy silence. Whenever one walks out of his door and into the streets, he/she has to
abandon his/her rights and freedom to silence until he/she returns to the house. Such is the
extremity of noise in the streets that the public establishments of organizations who have been
given the liberty to use digital sound enhancing devices have the audacity of increasing the
intensity of the noise in an attempt to capture the attention of people from longer distances.
“Current efforts at designing for and policing sound in public spaces have fallen short of fully
serving societal needs” (Beausire 6). The restriction of unreasonable noise, as the law puts it, has
become almost impossible. This particular law was meant to “minimize the exposure of citizens
to the physiological and psychological dangers of excessive noise and to protect, promote, and
preserve the public health, safety, and welfare…to control the level of noise in a manner which
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promotes commerce; the use, value, and enjoyment of property; sleep and repose; and the quality
of the environment” (Beausire 6). But the quality of the environment has kept on deteriorating with
the development of technology, and the lax nature of these policies and laws. People have found
loopholes within the existing policies, hence the need to replace them with new ones that ensure
the silence and quality of the environment. For example, other people choose to drive cars with
loud engines that make noise in the middle of the night because they know that fewer people will
launch complaints about the noise at night as compared to during the day. If we do not put laws in
place that curtail such negligent and intentional breach of people’s rights to enjoy silence at all
times, the level of noise is going to make it impossible to achieve quality silent environments;
especially with the increasing development of technologies that generate greater noises such as in
industrial settings.
Like the right to enjoy silence, human behavior deprives people of many other human
rights. For example, the right of life is often taken off the hands of the fetus when women engage
in abortion; an act that can be classified as cold-blooded murder, especially when it is not done for
medical reasons. Moreover, some people often block others’ right or freedom to religion by
condemning and persecuting them in the form of burning down their places of worship,
demonstrating loudly outside the worshipping premises, or even beating them up. The freedom of
speech is also often curtailed, especially by the authorities whenever the speech in question shares
information with the public that is not at the best interests of the authorities. These are just a few
examples of human right violations caused by the actions of other people who feel like they are in
a better position to make decisions that will significantly affect the lives of others.
To ensure that the rights of other people are not violated, the noise-abatement regulations
should adopt a more context-aware approach to address every situation where noise regulations
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are violated. Moreover, people should be well educated on their rights to ensure that they can easily
recognize a violation of these rights and defend themselves using all the available channels they
can gain access to. We can learn about our rights through raising awareness of current events and
their role in protecting our rights both locally and abroad, participating more in the local, national
and global politics, demonstrating to the young the significance of human rights by incorporating
some of their aspects in everyday activities such as communication, problem-solving and decisionmaking, and fostering a culture of inclusivity, mutual respect and diversity in everything we do to
ensure that the people around us know the significance of such attributes. By gaining awareness
of our rights and freedoms, we will be well equipped to fight any violations of the said rights using
the law or public action, hence leading to an enabling environment where everyone enjoys rights.
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Works Cited
Beausire, J. “The Emancipation of Urban Noise: John Cage’s Music as Acoustic
Ecology.” 2017.
Franklin, U. “Silence and the Notion of the Commons.” The Soundscape Newsletter, 1994,
Pollan, M. “Why ‘Natural Doesn’t Mean Anything Anymore.” 28 Apr. 2015,
Raymond, K. “Ursula Franklin.” 2017,
Thaler, R. H., and C. R. Sunstein. Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and
Happiness. Yale University Press, 2008.
Reflection prompts:

What was your task for this assignment?

How did you approach the assignment? (Describe briefly how you started, if there was a
moment of revelation when gained a better understanding of what is required in the
assignment, what changed in the process of writing multiple drafts, etc). What was the
thing you struggled with most?

What did you learn (about writing, about yourself as a writer, and/or about this particular
type of academic writing) in the process of working on this assignment?

If you could go back in time and give yourself tips on how best to approach the
assignment, what would these tips be?

What questions do you still have about this assignment?

What do you feel you have to work on to improve your writing?

Please describe in detail what you did in the process of revising your essay. What did you
feel helped you most to identify what needs to be revised and strategies for revision?

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