Finding Silence in a Cacophonous World

I enjoy my quiet time. I treasure it. I don’t get enough of it. I’ll never get enough of it.

I think everyone treasures silence in theory. I don’t know how many people enjoy silence in practice. With all of the shows we’re expected to consume, movies for which we’re mandated to excite ourselves, and the constant streaming of people playing “radio” in their basement, “silence” gets filled fairly quickly.

Silence encompasses so much more than just audio stimulation. It entails a peace of surroundings and the type of bone-deep quiet that allows your mind just to wander.

For instance, it’s not necessarily “silent” when you do yard work. But it does quiet the world and give the opportunity to reflect and process thoughts. You have time to internally debate philosophical issues that occur and think about upcoming things on which you need to focus.

To give additional perspective, I hate being interrupted during yard work. This isn’t for any practical time-based reason. It’s because interrupting me during yard work is like an intrusion on prayer.

As I said, I value silence.

The Decision to Forego Social Media

As Lent approached this year, I wondered what I would sacrifice from my daily routine. I enjoy my Lenten sacrifices. A lot of people make a joke of it, or give up things like chocolate out of reflex. I enjoy seeing what exactly I can remove from my daily activities and how I adapt.

As a side note, I haven’t been drinking beer since January, and largely gave up soda as well. I discovered that coffee was becoming a bigger crutch as a result. So I ditched that, too. I’m not offering any of this in a boastful way, but rather with the realization of how many crutches I/we can adopt as part of our routines.

The world was still too loud, though. So I decided to give up social media. I define “social media” as things like Facebook or Twitter, Instagram, or other services like that. While they may be qualified as social media, I exempt blogging, and passive review sites like GoodReads and letterboxd.

I’ve given up social media for Lent before. In fact, it led to many hijinks when I did.

I’ve noticed this time that I haven’t sensed something missing. I’ve discovered something is even truer than the last time I “gave up social media” a couple of years ago.

The world is much quieter without it. I’ve found more silence in a cacophonous world.

Further Reflections

I haven’t been the most avid tweeter for a couple years now, and I’ve basically been a ghost on Facebook. I gave up Instagram some time ago. (Don’t worry, I’ll never give up the signature username.) I, like everyone else, bought into the idea that if being connected on social media defined your relevance to today’s world.

The funniest part of that is how quickly people fall all over themselves to explain that they’re the exception. They‘re not hooked!

They’re like Joe Pesci “quitting smoking” in Easy Money. If you haven’t seen that movie, you’re not really missing anything monumental. The scene I’m referencing is where Pesci’s character states how easy it is for him to quit smoking by stamping out a cigarette and declaring he quit.

He promptly lights another without a word and continues the conversation.

I don’t think it’s true that social media is as vital as we’ve been led to believe. I’m as current on the news as people I know who are on social media. A lot of the news I read seems to include the reporter pulling opinions they read on social media. So in a sense, I’m still connected in that Kevin Bacon sort of way!

I might see movie trailers a little later than other people. A neat side effect is that I’m suffering less hype burnout about things. Trailers in front of the showing I caught of Jordan Peele’s film Us were a pleasant distraction instead of repetitive hammering.

I wasn’t tired of seeing anything. The trailers, for the most part, were entertaining.

cigarette stick on pile of coins
“I can quit anytime.”

A Sobering Realization

This time away has proven more than ever that social media is powered by a lie. It’s powered by a lot of lies and exaggerations from people.

When things start trending, there’s an endless legion of people who suddenly have relatable stories and feelings to whatever is trending. They’re sharing this for no other reason than to feel relevant to a current topic that’s captured the zeitgeist.

I miss out on the latest Outrage Storms that are whipped up over…whatever. I miss the repetitive jokes from random friends and others who are auditioning to be the next Bruce Vilanch. I don’t miss either of those things.

I don’t encounter news in the midst of a maelstrom of “trending” topics curated to convince me what’s worth my attention. I don’t see every single image posted of someone trying a new burrito or railing about some political point about which they assume all of their friends agree.

apple applications apps cell phone
Honestly, no one really cares. They just want you to agree.

Social Media Doesn’t Need Me, and I’m Fine with That

Even if it is true that you can’t “survive” or “self-market” without these services, maybe I’ve just hit a point where I’m fine with that. The world can burn itself to cinders, and most likely will, regardless of whether I’m tossing kindling into the pit.

You may ask, then, why my blog is connected to a Twitter account I haven’t checked in weeks. The simple answer is I forgot to disconnect the notifications feed. When I realized that, I shrugged, and just left it going. I don’t think it’s doing any harm.

Nor is it giving any help judging by the statistics. For the few of you who amble here and have sent notes that you enjoy my writing, I thank you. Writing is a thing I enjoy. I’m glad you do, too.

After all, if it’s powering content for search engines, then what’s the harm? I’ve already convinced those same engines I don’t look like myself, so I may as well continue to shape those results.

Also, the setting is somewhere or other. I just log in, write, and leave. I’m not thrilled with the idea of additional effort.

I’d rather keep thinking up things like “Naked Yoda.”

Yoda meditating Attack of the Clones
“Too loud, those padawans’ music, is.”