We “hear” sounds or noises that come from the environment we live in, sounds that we take in but we usually ignore. Meanwhile, “listening” is paying attention to sounds and try to understand and make sense of it. We can make choices about what we listen to. John Cage, for example, in the Ways of Hearing podcast, gave a reason to why he keeps his window open next to the busiest street. Noises from the street are loud, but he chooses to listen to every sound that comes from the street to feel connected. Whereas some people on the same street could be blocking those sounds by putting on their headphones and only listening to what they want to listen to. Race, gender, or social class does inform how we listen. For example, gentrification by rich people or companies taking over certain areas or huge spaces can lead to noise restrictions. Because of that it drives more people to further areas which results in more traffic and people, and longer commutes also mean more noise. There are other structural elements that affect our listening experiences, such as religion and technology. Schafer mentions that in some parts of the world “the aural sense still tends to predominate.” As for technology, since the 1920’s the level of sounds and different kind of sounds have increased due to constructions, vehicles, trains which resulted in with the start of decibels and lobbying for quiet space laws. Now with our modern technology, we have earbuds and limitless options for listening.
According to Schafer, people have learned to ignore unwanted sounds and expresses his concern over rising levels of noise pollution. He suggests how we must find a way to decide what sound we want to preserve and what sound we must eliminate. He also mentions that we can learn how sound can change people’s behavior and can help us understand social conditions and tell us more about the evolution of society. However, Krowski talks about how people have created their own private bubbles by disconnecting themselves from the sounds of our environment. For instance, headphones take us to a different mind space. People have found ways to reduce reverberation with different techniques and create their own private bubble to hear the desired sound.