Aug 01, 2021 | by Budi Tanrim
Silence is boring, but 50 million people would hope to hear silence
Silence can be dull and gives you a lonely feeling.
But 25 million people with tinnitus* would hope to hear silence—a void with no sound—for a moment.
I experienced tinnitus yesterday. I heard a cicada-like sound from a distance. I tried to turn off all the electric appliances. My wife said she couldn’t hear any noises I described. The moment I put on my noise-cancellation headphone, I knew the noise came from my head.
I had to put a white noise playlist so I can sleep—to distract my brain from the cicada-like sound.
That was an eye-opening experience. I had two takeaways from it.
One, we’re all navigating this world so differently. Some have mental health issues, visual impairment, hearing impairment, or other disabilities. No matter what our job is, I hope we all can contribute to empower everyone with their unique conditions to navigate this world a little better. Maybe in our current or the future job.
Design is about extending human capabilities in their environment, after all.
The second takeaway is more on the personal level. We take many things for granted, maybe stopping for a bit and being grateful for small things. Today, I’m grateful because I can hear silence for a moment when I wake up.
50 million people with tinnitus: WHO estimates that 50 million people in U.S. alone experience tinnitus. See the 2018 HLAA report: Hearing Loss Facts and Statistics. Tinnitus is a buzzing sound that comes from our head or brain—known as a phantom sound.