The cuteness of white noise

In the pursuit of sleep, I didn’t mind myself being conditioned like a pet—like Pavlov’s dog who is trained to expect food when it hears a bell ring, or like a goldfish who swims over to the side of the tank when it hears some human tapping before feeding. I was training myself to get sleepy when I heard white noise emanating from a special creature of my choosing.

Sound conditioners soothe the cacophony of any living environment into one great, enveloping sound. This sound is innately pleasing to us. It’s primordial. It pacifies us and lulls us to sleep. Someone once told me the one weird trick to falling asleep is letting everything go—becoming powerless, like a baby. But how does one choose to become powerless? Maybe a cute white noise machine, with its big, unblinking eyes, its whirring brain, and its sweet, rounded air holes that endear us to hold it close, or even pet it, are aestheticizing powerlessness as inspiration to us all to find our way to sleep.

title The cuteness of white noise
medium essay link to read
birthday 2019-07-09

Special thanks to Carson Salter for asking me to write about this. And to Meg Miller, Toby Shorin, and Dan Brewster for offering insight on previous drafts. Originally published July 2019 on Soft Space, the blog of the comforter company Buffy. Photos by Todd Midler.