A time comes in life when you have to just call it like it is. And unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years, you’ve probably noticed how noisy the world has become.
You can say it. It’s gotten loud here. Too loud.
Personally, I’ve managed to shut a lot of it out. But the nature of my work requires me to be “plugged in” every single day. And though I’m thankful to be doing what I love for a living, sometimes even that isn’t reason enough to justify the decibel level we’re all rocked with each day.
So this brings us to the question, just what happened to cause all of this wild temperament? Who opened the floodgates of cacophony? Where have all of these voices come from, these banging gongs of justice, outrage, vindication and vengeance?
Basically, who let the dogs out?
I’ve come to learn that if you pay attention to the tropes within a cultural story, these will run in cycles. But sometimes we come upon new tropes, new paradigms of thought, new modalities of myth and mind. And it is here where we stand, in a new era of noise that has proven resilient to muffling. It is here in this sphere of noise where we find ourselves.
“It was mortifying to find how strong the habit of idle speech may become in one’s self. One need not always be saying something in this noisy world.”
― Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories
Life has a way of showing us all just how important we really are. And it is from this position where we can begin to understand the reasons why so many people feel that they have something to say, and that it actually matters.
But most people are simply fooling themselves. Because in the grand scheme of things… you and I, we ain’t shit.
That’s not to say that we’re of menial or trivial importance, or of no importance whatsoever. But it is to say that the personal significance that one attributes to their own life is largely subjective by nature. You see, we all feel that we’re much more important than we really are, that our voices matter more than they actually do. And this is why every social platform is full of loud, trumpeting collective egoism.
No matter which platform you use, chances are you’ve found yourself engaged with people who seem to talk only to hear themselves, or to poke and prod until somebody snaps. They operate from a pompous position of arrogance and pretentious rhetoric. And I’d be willing to bet that none of these people would dare speak the way they do online when out in public.
But I’d be wrong.
The time has now arrived when people act much the same way they do online while out in the real world, with no empathy, no compassion, no regard for anyone other than themselves.
And this has only brought more noise to the fore.
I have a good friend from my high school years. We’ve remained in touch only because our technology enables us to do so, yet over the years of our correspondence, I’ve realized just how much I truly don’t know this person at all.
In fact, I may never have known him.
It was a recent conversation with my former companion on a social platform that made me realize a simple truth: Just about everyone I’m “friends” with are simply people that I used to know, people that I no longer know, or more apropos-people that I don’t know at all. And he is among them.
Our conversation ended with his accusations that claimed I was a “dyed in the wool democrat,” and that I had no business commenting about politics because the liberal mind is “skewed and illogical.”
So says the noise of intolerance.
People become friends due to common interests, common ground, commonly held belief systems and so on. But over time, our moral fibers change color. Our convictions are tested, and our minds grow accustomed to what we see, hear and experience. We change our positions. And we ourselves change.
But no matter how we change over time, we act to our own accord always. We act according to our own beliefs. But enter a social platform and all tact goes out the window, no matter your ideology.
Coming from a conservative background, I’ve found it hard to remain conservative just to be called a conservative in social circles. The fact is, I could care less about the title. I care about what is morally right, about the highest moral good in regard to all creation.
But this is just my own personal philosophy, my own empathy at work.
And it’s now apparent that empathy is among the dying aspects of the human experience.
“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me
Life is meant to be lived.
We’re not here to run amok and barrel into one another like raging bulls. Nor are we here to compete with one another in terms of virtue or morality. Yet this is all that seems to be happening in our lives.
One protest today will spawn a litter of rebuttals tomorrow. And if you like a certain thing, anything, you’re bound to be told why you’re stupid for liking it by someone eventually.
This is the noise of our world; a violent mess of words all piercing the heart like white-hot daggers and gutting the bowels of life from our bellies. And it’s apparent that this noise is fueled by its own momentum, by social algorithms, slanted news media, fake outrage and misinformation.
Enough is enough.
The truth is, all of this noise is a warning. It’s the signpost heralding that troubling times are among us. And it’s a sure sign that we’ve grown tired.
Though we haven’t grown tired of one another. We’ve grown tired of our own voices. We’ve grown tired of the loud, chaotic blend of virtue and vindication.
Personally, I’ve resigned myself to embracing the silence once again. Because truthfully, I’ve been just as caught up in the noise as everyone else. And the maddening spin of my own head is enough to give fair warning that it’s time to return to the center.
We must all realize that sharing common ground is one thing. But if you choose to exist among others, your own personal echo chamber is not going to be shared by everyone. And that’s the way it should be.
We’re not here to agree with one another. We’re not here to figure each other out. And we’re not here to simply “be right.”
We’re here to experience life, and hopefully to leave the world a little bit better as we do.
We’re here to help one another, not to continuously judge or criticize. And in a world of noise, we all have a choice of how our words are best used.
Be the silence in a world of noise. Be the echo of compassion in the canyon of hatred.
Love your neighbors, and speak thoughtfully. Speak strongly with kind words.
And know when to be quiet.