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Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Sound of Silence

Lorraine’s comment about people being frightened of silence has been rolling around in my noggin ever since she commented on my “Hang Up and Drive” post. Is it part of the human condition that we feel the need for constant buzz in the ear or is it a result of the Industrial/Technological Revolution?

Because our modern lives are filled with so much noise, silence can be unnerving. It emphasizes our loneliness, regardless how transitory, and turns our focus to our inner demons or thoughts that prey upon our mind. The noise tends to cancel out that sort of thing whereas silence can make us edgy and even seem malevolent. Silence is even referred to as “dead.”

I was reminded again of Lorraine’s comment this morning as I was shopping. It is not enough that people feel the need to have the television on at home, the radio on in the car or to be yakking on the cell phone, they need to be entertained while shopping. While strolling through Goodwill in Gig Harbor this morning the staff seemed to be having difficulty getting the radio on station or the needle in the groove (do I date myself?) and it started to drive me crazy. Compared to the snap, crackle and pop of their audio system, the silence truly seemed golden. I wanted to scream, “It’s okay, I can take the silence!”

Why is it that we can’t stand the silence? Why do we feel the need to be constantly distracted from what we’re doing? I am as guilty as the next person feeling the constant need to have the radio on. In case of a storm it is even more important to me to have a battery operated radio going. Is this some Cold War hold over from the fear of being the last person alive in the world or am I just unhappy with whom I am alone with in the silence?

Does silence frighten you?


JosephMcG said...

On the other hand, I think we were born to be relating to others, needing to speak, to listen and learn together, to touch and be touched...
we also need time for reflection... to deepen our understanding of who we are and why we are choosing to do what we do...
the need for communication and relationship is basic... tv, radio, cell phones... email, letters, blogging... all are ways we have found to communicate...
great topic, let's keep talking

Kim Thompson said...


I RELISH silence. On the days I didn't work at the school, and my own children were at school, I had everything in the house TURNED off. For hours. It was refreshing and calming for me. Now with summer, I am NOT alone, ever, and I miss my silent times. I tried to teach the kids to do this the other day. I said let's go outside and just listen. Listen to what? They said. I said how about the wind? Mom, that's boring.

Ack. Well, I tried.

I think that's the key Stephanie--I wonder if folks think they are too boring to be in their own minds, you know?

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

"I was never less alone than when by myself." —Edward Gibbon

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

"Go placidly among the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence." --The Desiderata

Silence? I crave it. I cherish it.

Lorraine Hart said...

Within silence, we meet ourselves. That's difficult for some...the true silence, the true meeting.

M. Sugimura said...

I'm one of those introverted people who has felt at times to be out-of-the loop because I need to have quiet time. Maybe it's a hold-over from
kindergarten days when we were required to have a prescribed shut-eye time and even had to bring a blanket from home!

For years, too much noise for too long is too much. Now that I've hit the other side of a half-century what damage to my hearing is starting to show-up as well. This makes having to spend time in noisy places even more difficult.

It's very much like having to many busy days in a row. You need to take a break - even if you are on vacation- to process it all. At least that is what I hope is going on as I need all the brain cells that I can keep! :)

Lorraine Hart said...

Noise depression is a very real state...and hearing damage seems more prevalent as daily living keeps raising decibels. Leaf-blowers and amplifier feedback would be two very effective torture tools, if you wanted state secrets from me.

Catch-phrase of the twenty-first century..."Can you hear me now?"

That having been said, I have to be honest and admit...on a sunny day, driving on the highway and one of my fave-rave ol' rocker tunes comes on...I'm gonna turn it up and remember the years of "on the road" music. 312 waiting! I always come back to human beings as kinetic art...a crazy dance on any given tightrope between opposites.

Communicating is so important...but some of the most important communicating between friends is done in a comfortable silence.