Silence Is Golden – Wait, Let Me Just Quickly Write This One Post
I was sitting in front of my laptop, staring at the bright lit screen, as it was cutting through the breaking darkness of my room. I was thinking about my next blog post. In my mind, a plethora of topics spread out in front of me, ready to be picked out and turned into a nice quick read. But somehow, the words did not want to come. The screen remained empty. The keyboard untouched. I, silent. What was going on?
As I already mentioned in my blog post about happy endings, today, we are online 24/7. The rise of social media and the ubiquity of the internet have opened up an entire new world, unthought possibilities and a lifestyle that our parents never dreamed of. We have turned from passive internet users into active creators. We produce content – constantly. We text, we email, we post, we blog, we share, we link, we chat. Whilst we do other things. We multitask. Nonstop.
Now, we perceive this as a gift. And it is. The world has come closer together. People from all over the world exchange their views, talk, and engage in a global conversation that only a few years ago was merely impossible. We get to take a peak into the lives of others far away from our homes – otherwise, you would not be reading this right now. We open Instagram and see the world through the eyes of someone who we have never met, and probably never will – in Asia, Africa, Australia, America or Europe.
We have also become much more confident. We have got used to stating our opinion publicly. To creating our own personal space online. To defining and redefining ourselves. To finding like-minded others – birds of a feather. A few years ago these thoughts, translated into carefully chosen words, that I am writing down right now, would have faced their lonely destiny of being stored away under piles of paper in a meaningless drawer – to remain probably forever unread in a private journal.
However – and here comes my small objection – it has also turned our lives into a constant chatter. We are online 24/7, which entails that we are available 24/7. I often catch myself coming home after a long day mostly spent in front of a computer screen just to sit down and spend my evening with the exact same activity. I am so used to the constant intake of content, to getting more information and news, that winding down and doing nothing seems more like a task than the actual act of being online. I wonder, have we forgotten how to enjoy the soothing absence of constant noise? Have we forgotten to focus on ourselves? Have we forgotten to find some distance? Have we developed a need for constant input?
WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and the almost archaic email are standing lines into the outside world. A four-lane highway of information that we constantly extend, improve and – most importantly – monitor. Our smartphones, laptops and tablets – our digital Ferraris, Porsches and Aston Martins that we incessantly upgrade to the newest models. Forgotten the times where a detour on a Sunday afternoon was a welcome change, leading us to winding roads through the countryside, giving us some downtime to the busy days of the week. Forgotten the times where a bike ride along the river was the source of a moment of bliss. Forgotten the times where taking a walk and abandoning the path to explore the wilderness beyond was an adventure.
The other day, while spending my free time browsing the web – again – I came across this meme that in our times the biggest compliment we can make another person is to leave our smartphone in the pocket. Okay, maybe not the biggest. But there was some truth to it. I started to think. If we are willing to make this effort for someone else, if we can put the phone away for others, put the information flow on hold – why are we not willing to pay ourselves the same compliment? Have we forgotten to be by ourselves? To cherish the silence? Appreciate it? Do we even still know what silence is?
Maybe, from time to time, we should mount our bike and take it for a ride, along the river, to the countryside, away from the noise. Back to ourselves.