THE GUARDIAN | Hit the mute button: why everyone is trying to silence the outside world

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Published: 12Jun2019

Last month, the taxi company Uber began trialling a suite of new features for users of its Exec service – including a button you can activate if you want to mute your driver. “Quiet preferred” is the euphemism Uber is using (you can also toggle it to “happy to chat” – lucky driver). But it appears to bring the dream of being able to choose who and what we listen to a step closer.

“When we conduct surveys about modern life and ask people what the biggest irritants of modern life are, ‘unwanted music or sound’ is usually in the top five,” says Dr Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal and author of The Organised Mind. This has a lot to do with the way our hearing system works. “

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