Feedback Sucks!

An Act of Defiance

Feedback Sucks! At least, so said the t-shirt my husband acquired from a product rep when he worked for a local music store. It was heather grey with bold black letters. Audio Technica designed it for promotional purposes back in the day. They meant to infer their products could reduce feedback. I loved that shirt! Partly because it was edgy and gutsy. But also, because it made me think. It was rich with analogy. I felt like it said a lot about life and it certainly seemed to relate to my anxiety. I wore the shirt all the time as an act of defiance against my own anxiety. Feedback does suck.

Everyone Hates Feedback

This isn’t the kind of feedback a person gets on schoolwork or art or written works—although these can be painful and anxiety inducing. To the contrary, in the audio world, everyone hates feedback. Audiences hate it. Performers hate it. And, sound men hate it. We’ve all experienced it. The squeal that pierces your ear. It’s the worst! My husband is a musician and singer. So, over the past 25 years I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in environments where audio feedback tends to occur.

It Gets our Attention

Essentially, feedback happens when a microphone gets too close to a speaker. To better explain, the mic is designed to pick up sound. It sends that signal to the speaker which relays it to the audience. When the mic and speaker get too close the audio sticks in a loop that’s moving too fast to distinguish. The equipment reaches its threshold for deciphering the sound. And, this is when we hear the squeal–the equipment’s response to the breech of its functional boundary. It gets our attention. Also, it’s when we’re most grateful for the sound man since he silences the irritant. 

Side-Eye Confrontation

When feedback first happens the squeal is loud, shocking, and disorienting. If it lasts long enough we cover our ears. But, not before turning our heads sharply to side eye the sound man. Ask any sound man, he will tell you this has happened to him. Like me, you’ve probably done it to him. No one can tolerate feedback for long–it’s simply unbearable. If it isn’t dealt with quickly, we wince in discomfort. We leave the room. We complain loudly. However we respond, one thing’s for sure, we cannot co-exist peacefully with the offending sound. 

Residual Remains

Not only that, once the initial squeal is gone the residual remains for some of us–our ears keep ringing. Sometimes, even after the ringing subsides we feel pain. This makes feedback a lot like the trials of life. The initial jolt is painful. Such is the case with the death of a loved one, divorce, the ending of a relationship, lost dreams, abuse, assault, war, natural disaster, injustice, financial hardship, or the myriad of things we cannot control—like a viral pandemic and the ensuing quarantine. 

“We must live life on life’s terms.”

Chip Dodd

Managing Anxiety

The truth is we will never be able to control life. As Chip Dodd says, “We must live life on life’s terms.” We can’t control life. We can’t control the feedback situations in life. However, for most of us we can control our response to those situations. Even so, that can be difficult for people like me who have a history of complex trauma. For years, I was so disconnected from my body that I lost all sensitivity to the clues it gave me.

In recent years, I’ve learned to tune in to my body a little better. But, I still encounter situations when I need to investigate why I feel a particular way. Which is why I think it’s helpful to ask “Where’s my feedback?” I can usually identify it because the initial squeal was distressing, even shocking. Typically, it left me with anxiety. For instance, it took me a bit to identify why I am currently so exhausted in this pandemic situation. I’m just an ordinary person working from home. I thought I should be feeling energized not tired.

Love Yourself & Get Help

Regardless, I am really tired. And, it’s because of all this uncertainty. I fear for my kids and my family. It’s tiring me out. And, I think that’s pretty normal. We’re in a global crisis. There is danger, sadness, and loss all around us. Tasks as simple as going to the grocery have become a high risk endeavor. And, to top it off we can’t hug or touch. This is the residual ringing in me right now.

With that in mind, I thought about how these circumstances might exhaust our efforts to process our feelings or manage our anxiety. So, below I’ve added resources for us. Love yourself and get help if you need it.

Resources local to Nashville, TN

  1. Tennessee government website resources
  2. Mental Health Co-op
  3. Centerstone
  4. NAMI, Davidson County
  5. Sage Hill Counseling
  6. Daystar
  7. Refuge Center
  8. Agape

International Help

If you live outside of Nashville or Tennessee and are interested in resources nationally or internationally I’d like to point you to one of my favorite spots–a great mental health blog I enjoy, Thoughts on Life and Love. Mandy Kloppers offers a slew of comprehensive international resources. Check out her amazing blog! 

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