Sonic Garbage

There are no alleys in New York City

I’m always surprised at how many people seem unaware of this. Even more, how many New Yorkers don’t stop to think about it. “Oh I thought that was just my block,” people say.

It’s something New Yorkers get used to quickly: every week, a big black plastic mountain grows curbside and every week, a big truck comes by and clears it away before you wake in the morning (or wakes you as it clears it because there are no alleys in New York City).

What if garbage pick up ceased to exist?

Maybe we’d find a way to mask it — make a path through it or build structures over it so the ceaselessly piling garbage wouldn’t permeate our daily lives, wouldn’t effect our travel patterns, sleep schedules, or eating habits. But with each inch it grew, we’d lose a little sunlight, a little oxygen, and a little bit of the clean way our lives used to look

This is what’s happening with sound. Sonic garbage is piling quickly.

Ask anyone and they’ll agree: our world is getting louder.

As of this year, approximately 12% of the U.S. population (or 38 million Americans) have significant hearing loss ( More and more people are experiencing hearing loss every year and every day new sonic garbage is added to our lives. Vehicles, construction, electronics, humans themselves — all are contributing to this increase in noise that we can’t seem to escape.

Change Needs To Be Made, Not Masked

Educational awareness of hearing loss is becoming more widespread, as are the earplugs and various sound muffling devices people are utilizing to help mask this loud world. But why mask it? Like the physical garbage, we can’t simply walk around it. We can’t carve a path or push it to the sides. We need to take action. We need to find our sonic garbage cleaners (albeit, quieter ones) and clear the sonic landscape.

When was the last time you took the time to sit and just listen? Put everything down (yes, everything) and just listened — listened to hear every sound? Binaural 3D Audio recording with Hooke helps make us actively aware of the sounds around us.

The first step towards making our world quieter is awareness. We’ll never create change if we continue to ignore sound, if we continue to simply accept the heaping sonic garbage (“Oh I thought that was just my block,” “Oh I thought that was just the way things were”) or merely mask it. Greater sound awareness and true listening will allow us to determine how we want to coexist with our aural atmosphere. The way dimmers have become a common household feature allowing us agency over the types of light for different moments in our lives, we can create tools to design the sound in our lives.

It starts with stepping outside and noticing the trash.

From One Ear To Another,
Anthony Mattana
Hooke Founder

Leave a Reply