Seeking Quiet

I recently read an article about how “being quiet” is no longer the norm, but rather a request that has to made repeatedly. To quote,

It’s a pathology that seems increasingly common, I suspect in part because people now spend so much time in the solipsist’s paradise of the Internet that they carry its illusion of invisible (and inaudible) omniscience back with them out into the real world.

Being an advocate of quiet in our society is as quixotic and ridiculous as being an advocate of beauty or human life or any other unmonetizable commodity.

After reading the book Quiet by Susan Cain, I’ve realized that there are many people like me who often demand quiet, especially in restaurants, buses, office floors, badminton courts, and other  public places. Unfortunately, such places are noise-dominated by those who want to draw attention to themselves. I so miss libraries at work, where “silence please” was the norm, and the entire atmosphere makes you feel like reading.

The extinction of quiet from society is a signal that people no longer have hobbies or thoughts that they pursue alone. Today the concept of having a ‘good time’ or ‘getting stuff done’ necessitates interaction. In this age of social media no one gives you points for what you don’t share. A person may be physically alone when he tweets to 2000 followers but he is still with an audience. So when he goes offline he will seek out an audience. As I see it, an audience requires a performance and a performance requires us to be a little different from what we truly are.  Seeking quiet has become synonymous with seeking time to be ourselves.

I hope quiet rooms, quiet cafes, and quiet offices spring up again. They could be called ‘mindful spaces’ or ‘silent-yoga’, or something else that’s trending these days, but they better be quiet. Shhh!

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