Thursday 7 April 2011

The 'hum' as a potential weapon . . .

I don't know whether you have had to face this situation but in our home, it happens. I can't say whether it is a reflexive action but it sure does get on your nerves. Usually when an argument is going on, my sister starts humming a tune. Now, please don't think that it is a voluntary act. Well, it can be but I'm assuming that it isn't. She starts humming and sometimes even starts singing something. I somehow think that she does this to prove that her point is right by choosing to irritate the other party (read, me). When she starts this humming, a thousand reactions brew within me starting from the violent to x-rated violence. Well, I don't do anything but fume within me.

My sister doesn't stop with a single hum. She hums endlessly. Somehow, I see this humming as different from the pleasant humming. I wonder at how simple acts like humming and singing can be used as a potential weapon for irritating someone. Well, it is not only my sister, there are many others in whom I have observed this action. When there is some argument going on, they either start singing or playing some songs in their mobile, which is extremely annoying.

How many expressions to irritate people in an argument. Now, getting reflective, I might think that the problem lies within me as my mother or any other individual has not chosen to complain about this act of humming and singing. It is only me. Perhaps, there is a live wire in me which reacts when people choose to hum when the situation is not quite fit for humming.

People sometimes sing to mask their fear. While walking in a path that is dark and fraught with strange sounds, people choose to sing so that they don't have to hear the scary thoughts within their heads.

Afterall, Nero was fiddling when Rome was buring (Aside: Is that why the software used for burning CDs is called Nero?!?!?!?).

Now, dear reader tell me, have you imagined the power of the 'hum' and 'song' as I have shown you.

Image: Internet


  1. i remember the military using loud music to bombard our enemies during a siege...i think that is the

  2. This is really funny but when my brother and I get into an argument he usually makes a really weird face, not on purpose I think, it's just this expression he does..his lower lip puffed out, nose scrunched up with eyebrows together in a frown and a vein in his temple starts throbbing..this for some reason is really hilarious to me and I start laughing and then he cant continue arguing and he starts laughing, too. So it's not just the hum that can change the trajectory of arguments :D

  3. This is really funny but when my brother and I get into an argument he usually makes a really weird face, not on purpose I think, it's just this expression he does..his lower lip puffed out, nose scrunched up with eyebrows together in a frown and a vein in his temple starts throbbing..this for some reason is really hilarious to me and I start laughing and then he cant continue arguing and he starts laughing, too. So it's not just the hum that can change the trajectory of arguments :D

  4. This is so true. I knew of a person who used to start humming when there was an unpleasent argument.
    Ha ha like that thing about Nero burning. Never thought of it in that angle.

  5. I am with you on this one.;) Some people whistle. I was once confided in a car for hours with a guy that simply would not stop whistling, it annoyed me like crazy. Particularly as the melodies were all familiar and got stuck in my head.;)
    Yes, I think a lot people hum or whistle as a reaction to something, either that they are bored and uncomfortable. Or it helps them to concentrate.;))
    Have a great week dear Susan, see you around.;))

    PS: My verification word today:

  6. I have heard that people hum to calm themselves. Your blog seems to support this theory. I hum sometimes and lately when I find myself humming I do a personal anxiety check. Usually I can see that maybe my humming is doing its best to calm me. I have never been told if the humming actually does calm the hummer. I guess for you humming is not calming. HEE HEE...
    Good luck - what about sisters chewing? does that bug you too?

  7. Susan

    I think I would be unnerved as you if my sister hummed a tune to prove her point! I have two and they have all sorts of ways of letting me know what they think:)

    I recall one instance when humming/singing was essential. I was climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge with a fear of heights. I looked up and sang an italian song to myself over and over again until I reached the top. I found it very helpful!!

    Best wishes..

    Jeanne xx

  8. Oh yes, humming is the easiest way to distract and disturb your thoughts and drive you into feeling helpless.

    About Nero, it is called so, perhaps because you keep looking on, while it burns the CD/DVD.

  9. When kids argue....they make ineligible nises to drown out the voice of the other! Thats how the victor emerges in a debate. ...drownthe voices

  10. Yes, I have heard both the hum and song as both irritations and enjoyments.

    I think that perhaps it would be better to change that in you which is irritated. There are parts of the ego we can help to mature as one can give guidance to a small child and help it learn to deal with the outside world in a calmer manner. Sometimes it takes time and a great willingness to change aspects of yourself so as not to be hooked into anothers drama play and perhaps if you be honest with yourself, you enjoy this game and are a part of holding it in place.
    Just some thoughts, but from my experience I have found that when I truly have changed that in me that plays out these recurring dramas, the other just stops and finds another to play with knowing
    that I will be uneffected and no longer agreeing to this manipulation.

    So, there be my view.

    Kind regards,

  11. Goodness, that would really infuriate me as if the argument wasn't enough. I do know, however, people who will use a smile or a laugh to get to me in an argument or a condescending voice. That is worse than initial offense.

  12. I've been there before! It's those little things in an argument that really can push our buttons! Great post.

  13. Haven't really experienced the hum or singing, but have gotten the 'talk to the hand' remark or better the 'blablablabla' remark during a discussion. Just makes me want to scream!

  14. I have gone through that before. It is infuriating! I dont know why people do that. Perhaps to cover up their fear of getting pulled into an argument they will lose, perhaps just to calm themselves or maybe just to irritate. Very thought provoking post Susan. Thank you for sharing

  15. My sister will not hum but she will roll her eyes and say " You do it to" whatever that means... My brother well he just listens( really tuning out) and then says "ok"
    How do i handle it simple I offer no advise until they are ready to ask.
    As for me (well it is only fair ) I tend to walk away from the situation....

  16. Interesting, I have not had the experience of a hummer, although other unusual and unacceptable behavior was used. It just means they have lost the argument and they need to resort to undesirable tactics to throw you off target. So do yourself a favor and distance yourself or protect yourself until you resume your inner dignity --- and know it is not defeat but acknowledgment of a no-win situation with a person who is using manipulative behavior on you. You don't need to prove your point you did when she starts to hum.

    Have a relaxing week end, and always have compassion for yourself and others.


  17. Ok here's what you should do, Sus, when she starts humming like that. Belt it out! Yeah, belt out with as much lung power as you can muster. Any song would do, but RESPECT by Aretha Franklin is a good choice.

  18. Susan,

    Ha, ha, yes I was going to say the same thing as AJ. Do something freaky, start clapping your hands and dancing around, but do a really strange dance, maybe it will crack you both up and put an end to the humming. I think it sounds like negative attention that little kids strive for. So get silly the power of the hum might be forever diminished. Good luck.

    Sidenote: I began a new blog, totally different, sort of silly really, just a place to vent on my approaching date of turning 40. A very candid but causal place to think about my life. There is only one post so far, and it is in the works, but I hope you will stop by. Thirty-Nine and Holding.

  19. Wow! Susan, to be quite honest, I have never encountered this humming while in disagreement of which you speak. But what an odd and interesting phenomenon. Yes, I recall, as a child, humming in dark places so as to deflect the fearful thoughts in my head. But hearing someone hum during an impasse in conversation is really a first!

    All I can say is that we all have different ways of coping with pressure. Some people can't seem to handle disagreement with someone, I suppose, and so hum the disagreement away. It seems we will do what we must do to handle what we must handle. We are such strange creatures, though, aren't we?

    Love and hugs to you,

  20. As a child (under 14) I had to walk a mile up a hilly, winding ,unlit roadway.
    And I whistle, sang, talked out loud to myself. I think little children should not have to BE frightened like that. But would I tell anyone? NO!

    Now, here comes Steve the Alkie. One quote from my "Big Book" is "...we have ceased fighting anything or anybody...And that is the way I TRY to live now, and with a serenity 'heretofore' undreamed of!

    HI, SUSAN!

  21. Ha ha ha.. I could visualize the whole scene between you and your sister! :P

    If I ever try to do something like that.. my sister would walk off and disown me! :D

    It is annoying!!

  22. I can't say I have ever experienced this but I am fairly sure it would annoy me and make me feel as though what I was saying wasn't being taken seriously.:)

    Maybe she knows how it makes you feel and does it to annoy you just a teensy bit? I know that sometimes if someone tells me something I do annoys them, if I am upset or angry with them, I do it all the more. Shame on me.:)

  23. Susan

    Just stopping by again to say hello and wish you a good week end.


  24. I thank you all for your comments but I wasn't able to reply to each of you. But this sort of an arrangement is only for this post.

    Gradually recovering from Chicken pox.

    Big hugs and much love to all of you.

  25. HI MY SWEET FRIEND... Glad you've recovered of your chicken pox.
    Interesting post... I'd hate it and I used to live similar situations with my ex (him hummmming!!)

    I use humming and singing to celebrate my inner peace and joy ONLY

  26. I noticed a committee chairperson humming when some of our group was standing around discussing the project. She had procured sample for us; of course 2 or 3 people were suggesting something different. Was the chairperson nervous, frustrated or what do you think? I am so puzzled as to why this person who is a professional school administrator did this.

  27. My husband was married before he said when he got in a argument with his ex he would humm and it would piss her off that he was happy. Act like nothing is bothering him. Now he does it to me and it's childish. It pisses me off! But I don't say anything. He wants me to be upset about him singing or humming

    1. This is it, I think. Your answer. The reason she does it. My husband does it, too. It's like convincing you, and himself, that he is not affected by the argument and not bothered by it. It works on your nerves because of that message. I don't have advice yet how to respond. I always ignore it but it doesnt really help. I think what i will do one day is make a joke about it, that makes him feel a bit stupid about it. And maybe after that he wont do it anymore. Just have to think about the joke first...

  28. Her body goes into fight or flight mode under stress. This is an uncontrollable reaction to try to calm herself down in order to cope with the stress of arguing with you- subconsciously doing it. Not even thinking about getting back at you…only focusing on calming herself down.

  29. people who whistle or hum all day may seem irritating but they are actually toning their vagus nerve and putting their body into a relaxed parasympathetic state.

  30. My husband and I have been married for 50 years. He has always hummed after a disagreement. I fact he is humming right now



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