I was riding the subway the other day when a young couple got on. From the looks they were giving each other and the way they clung, I guessed they were newly in love. The girl said little and clung to the by’s jacket like he was her lifeline. The boy said little and I watched his foot tapping on the train car floor. When I took a closer look I realized he had in one ear bud plugged into his iPod.
Besides the fact that this really annoys me because it sends the message that she isn’t worth his undivided attention, this practice also drove home the reality that people today can no longer handle silence. Months ago one of my Twitter followers mentioned a long car ride she had ahead of her and how it would be several hours of torture because the car radio was broken. She asked what in the world she was supposed to do in that time period.
Silence is scary and intimidating and overwhelming. Silence means that real thoughts may actually form. It means you are left alone with, well, just you. There is no longer a buffer, a distraction. It’s merely you and your thoughts, as scary and confrontational as they might be.
The world needs more silence. Not silence in the face of wrong or injustice – there is too much of that. But silence in order to think – in order to think deeply! How can we form opinions about our political, moral, ethical and personal beliefs if there is no space within our minds to percolate truths? The simple answer: we can’t. And as a result we have a lot of ill-informed people spouting ‘truths’ they learned from secondary sources often with questionable credibility.