In design, white space is treated as an element by itself, not as empty space. Emptiness on a page is not really emptiness, it is a tool to emphasise the presence of content. In our daily lives, silence plays the role of margin. It puts sound into context by creating a contrast. Sound is not the only thing that goes into the making of a song — there are thousands of pauses in every tune and they contribute to the music as much as the notes do.
Now think about our daily lives and how little silence there is in them. Our days are like a page of text with no margin anywhere. There isn’t even any space between words. Information intake, conversations, broadcasting… it is all very nearly continuous.
Something happens, and news anchors rush to let us know what it was that happened, even though they themselves have very little idea regarding what happened. The reason of course is that they can’t say, “I don’t know.” I-don’t-know is seen as a sign of weakness. You are supposed to know, to be informed, to be continuously aware, to be plugged in to the real time cycle of news. If you are anything less than absolutely aware, you aren’t good enough anymore.
And here we come to the key point — as far as experience is concerned, there is no difference between endless sound and endless silence. Both are maddening. A song is not a song if it does not have highs, lows, and small little silences. Life isn’t really being lived if there is no place for silence in it.