Noise Reduction

One evening, I went out of Shinjuku station and crossed the street and stood on a sloping pedestrian-only road. Tourists passed, admiring the lights. On a railing, a man sat arguing with someone, maybe his girlfriend? In a storefront, the young nubile members of AKB-48, a popular girls band, smiled, sang, and danced on a flat-panel television screen. Bar touts invited people to sing karaoke or go for all-you-care-to-drink courses of alcohol.

I let the lights fade into the background. Instead of commanding attention, they became background illumination. The smiling and dancing girls become to me a ploy to get me to spend money – then, they became just two-dimensional shapes flitting across a dark background. The girls themselves are just pawns in a money machine.

Some people waited for others, playing with their phones. Some couples walked hand-in-hand. Some old people wore out-of-fashion clothing and walked more slowly than the rest. Some people dressed in office clothing, supporting each other as they walked, inebriated, toward the station.

Many times have I walked through this area and seen the lights, but not the people.

The media diet I now set for myself to reduce noise: when out and about, look at people, not ads. When on the train, look at the scenery, people, or read, not the videos or ads. Do not watch news, read from a weekly news magazine at most. Shift reading to include more classics – works that have passed the test of time. This is a much easier way to live.

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