Growing up in the 60’s and early 70’s, noise was well defined. Some variation of sound that was not pleasant. It was harsh. That made no sense. That you wanted to run away from. A loud lawnmower when trying to talk to your neighbor. A jackhammer working away near you when trying to concentrate.
Noise today has evolved into meaning something very different. It has evolved past sound into something that must be paid attention to. It has become invisible to see in its many forms. Noise now encompasses thoughts, opinions, videos and data. We hear less noise from sound than we used to. Noise can be anything that doesn’t interest us.
In today’s world, noise is defined more as distraction. Noise is something that is not relevant to what we are doing or looking for. Strangely noise, in today’s world, does not reveal itself easily to us. Noise acts more like carbon monoxide, which is odorless, than propane gas (that has an odor to it).
Is it as simple as noise being things that don’t interest us? If it was, than we could always see the noise in our lives. But we don’t. Why is that?
Technology continues to change and evolve at break neck speed. We, as humans, don’t travel down this path. Our attention span is limited. The depth and breadth of what we can comprehend in a short period of time doesn’t change all that much. With repetition we can become faster but we don’t see the 2x or more increases in speed or processing power that technology regularly achieves.
We are exposed to so many interesting things, outside of our world, that it is easy to consume new information thinking it has value for us. Five minutes here or fifteen minutes there. Will our lives change knowing the fate of our favorite movie star in their divorce or our favorite athlete who is rehabbing from an injury? Or what our friends said on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat this morning?
Then there is all of this information that we gather with respect to an issue or a problem. Jumping quickly to conclusions we spend little time trying to determine what is noise (irrelevant) versus what is relevant in deciding a direction to pursue. Causes are easy to hypothesize. Deeper thinking searching for clues that are not so evident isn’t.
Noise. We need to be thinking about what is noise in our lives much more often. Being on the lookout for where we get distracted by it. Improving our focus and being more effective depends on this.