There has been a lot of talk lately, in things we have been reading and in what everyone has been saying, about the lack of silence exacerbating the problem of isolation among individuals. I have to say that I do not agree with this. I think music is at the very heart of human interaction. Music helps us connect to other people. Humans have a collective and innate understanding and pleasure for music. I think it would be unhealthy if a civilization was without music.
This being said, I know that, to put it as Penny did, a constant “plugging in” would be damaging for us all. If you’re constantly listening to music to the point that the singers on your iPod feel more real than the people around you, there is something wrong. But in my experience, most of us are not that bad yet. Starting college meant having to talk to a whole bunch of strangers all at one time. And I did not have the experience of not being able to say “Hi” because people had their iPods on. Yeah, people wear their head phones walking to class, while they’re in the Student Center and trying to study, but I still think most people like to socialize. And they know that it’s hard to talk to someone when they can’t hear over whatever is coming out of their headphones. I don’t think our society has degenerated to the point where we are unable to make friends with people in person before we make friends on Facebook. I think quite the reverse is true, actually, few people request to be friends on Facebook with someone they have never met in person. College has proved to me that our generation is still quite capable of human interaction.
I think my point is that it is very hard for me to buy into this end-of-the-world, on-the-edge-of-crisis feeling about noise that the Manifesto for Silence presented to us, because I have not experienced anything that seems so bad to me. It seems like he talks about noise as if its an alien force, something totally separate from normal human living. But all this extra noise is at the very heart of human living. It’s hard for me to see all this noise as anything more than life, than the very essence of thriving civilization. I do understand where this is coming from. I don’t like how people seem unable to handle or just uncomfortable with silence. I don’t like when people want to fill up their lives with things that will help them never have to think. But to me, these things still seem to be a choice. You can find times and places to think if you look for them. I don’t think the world has gotten so bad that it has taken away this choice.