I’ve been thinking about thinking.
People surround themselves with noise. Everywhere you go, there has to be music. At the store, in the car, at work, at any business, at home, or out with friends. Music or noise of some sort. They go to social events, the louder the better. If it’s not loud, it’s not considered to be as fun as a loud event. People are afraid of silence. It makes them uncomfortable. They see silence as a negative thing.
At first I thought it might simply be that peoples’ attention spans are getting shorter, and so they grow bored easier. That’s probably true to some extent, but I feel like there’s more to it. One of the benefits of silence is that it invites introspection and thought. It helps you see yourself and your situation more clearly when you just sit and think for an extended time. I think that’s the real reason a lot of people avoid silence. Many of them are afraid of what they find in silence. They don’t like having that mirror held up in front of them, so they try to cover the mirror by distracting themselves as often as possible. They distract themselves with noise, with music, with electronic devices. If they don’t like what they see when they see themselves, instead of fixing or changing what’s in the mirror, they find it easier to lose themselves in noise and distractions. The noise blocks out their own thoughts and insights, keeping them from those nasty uncomfortable self-assessing thoughts.
Even at home, people crank up the volume on the TV much higher than necessary. Is their hearing really that bad, or is there some other factor at work here? There’s no major noise outside, so what are they trying to drown out?
Introspection isn’t always easy. It can be unsettling. Since people tend to avoid discomfort whenever possible, they hide from themselves. When you’re distracted, all your problems momentarily disappear. Rather than covering those problems with an ever-larger sheet, isn’t it better to work on them and eliminate the ones you can? If silence is painful or leaves you uncomfortable, maybe you should consider that a red flag.