Everyone does it just a hair differently, I suspect:
How different people are in their preferences. When I am out walking, I just want the quiet and the ambient sounds. But other people don’t want that; they want the sound of human voices or music. (Not worse, not better, just different.) However, when I’m working out in my house (on the cross-country ski exerciser) I must have music (or at least a news station on the radio, to get caught up on the news) because that is so boring to me that I need something else to think about.
There’s one circumstance in which you could consider if worse: distracted pedestrian strides into a light pole, or into the street.
And when I’m stuck here at my parents’ house alone, it helps to have the tv on (noise) even if I am just half-watching, because it distracts me from the pops and creaks the house makes — which are different from the pops and creaks my own house makes.
All houses have their own pops and creaks. I wonder if anyone has sought to turn this fact into some sort of forensic database.