Cover of Sounds of Silence (Exp)
Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
The song has an quality to it that makes it seem kind of dark, almost eerie feeling. Some would consider it a depressing song, a song with no hope. But I hear it differently, I hear it as a song of inner peace, a song searching for the meaning of self, the meaning of life, to me it is a song of becoming.
In todays world of connectedness, Wi-Fi and smart phones, we are never to far from being connected to someone or something. In fact we are frightened of being non-connected, of being off the grid as it were. Silence is the “monster under the bed” of many, they fear it, but have no rational reason to do so.
Recently I took a vacation to Koln Germany, I brought my iPad and smart phone, the iPad for reading and checking up on my home via Facebook and the smart phone, just incase I needed to call home. The phone was on, but never used, in-fact a few times it lost its charge, the iPad, well it was on daily, to read the news of the day and to check in on the doings of the two young lads who were watching over my home and pets, and to read. My postings to my Twitter (@paulsposite) and Facebook were at a stand still, and my blogging was put on the back burner. The sound of silence was welcomed, and was filled with real conversations with real people.
Wait, how can I say that, how can the silence be filled with conversation? What do I mean? What the hell am I talking about?
Silence comes in many different flavors, there is, of course, the traditional silence, no sound at all, just the nothingness that surrounds you. This silence is very useful, allowing you to become fully aware of yourself and your surroundings. I have talked about this kind of silence before, the need for it in our lives, even if its just 15 minutes per day, a time to reset and replenish your energy. I have spoken about how Jesus used this time time of silence to hear His Fathers commands and how we need to do the same. But this is not the silence I am referring to today, today I am referring to the digital silence, the silence of electronics. The need to replace the buzz of phones and instant messaging with the hum of humanity.
The world we are living in, is a world of connections, we are connected to each other in ways we have never seen. We have Facebook friends and Twitter alliances, we instant message each other on our way to be with each other and than continue to message others why we are with each other. We are fearful of being disconnected, we are fearful that we will miss out, we are fearful of the silence of technology.
I love technology, and use it daily, I live on my iPad, I like keeping up with my friends and family and reading the latest news events as they happen, but I also love the down time, the time for me to just sit and be still. When I first got my iPad I was on it every waking hour, posting every news article I read, and every quote I heard. I felt connected, I felt as if I was contributing to the massive world discussion of politics and current events. I still do post, more than some but less than others, but I have cut back, I have learned lessons and I have become friends with silence once more. Now most nights I post a few things, but for the most part my iPad is closed and away from me. Why the change, why did I give it up, if it was truly something I enjoyed? Simple, the stacks of magazines, books and other stuff that goes unread, the projects that are delayed and the time for silence that is lost. I was replacing all my enjoyment with one thing, the iPad and the net had become my single place of activity. The books I intended to read have collected dust, the magazines I subscribe to have gone unread and in many cases unopened. The projects I have started around the house are 1/2 finished or barley started and all the great plans I have made are just that, plans but no actions.
Is it the fault of the iPad, Facebook or Twitter, nope, its all mine, I allowed them to fill up the silence, I allowed them to take over and become my anti-silence. There is a time and a place for Facebook and Twitter, the iPad offers me many great opportunities to be silent, I have many great books downloaded that I could be reading, I have the ability to work on some of the projects I have started or want to start, its not the fault of technology, but the fault of my use of it.
My To-do list is long, but my actions are short. My personal silent time was lacking, but this is changing. My time in Germany, on my vacation, allowed me to once again remember the quality time I had when I had the time for silence. I remembered that the iPad does not own me, but I own it, I remembered that there is an On and Off switch on it, that if it can be turned on, it can also be turned off. I like that… I think it’s a lesson most of us need to learn, that what can be turned on, The TV, the Radio, the Computer or iPad, MP3 player, all it can also be turned off. The book that is closed can be opened, the magazine that sits there can be picked up. The walk you have been talking about can become reality and the quiet evening spent with good friends over a glass of wine can happen with out the smart phones. Life can exist with out being connected, life did before Wi-Fi and it can do so once again.
We need to re-learn that missing a phone call will not end our life, that not posting our current global position every 15 minutes will not cause the earth to spin off its axis and that our Facebook friends do not really need to know what we are eating or reading or watching every moment of the day. We need to understand that Twitter will still be Twittering with out our little comments and life will go on with or without our input.
The lesson will be hard, we have become so use to posting and tweeting that it almost seems second nature. But life will go on, technology is not the essence of life, this is a hard, true fact.
We need to remember that Wi-Fi cannot replace Face to Face, that Facebook is not the same as “Lets do dinner” and that a tweet is not the same as conversations over a glass of beer. Each have there time and purpose, but one cannot, and should not, replace the other. Reading a good book, be it paper or electronic cannot be replaced by reading the tweets of some celebrity you decided to stalk, and video chatting with your loved ones is not the same as dinner and a movie.
With the Christmas season upon us, maybe we should consider this. Maybe this year when we are buying all our gifts, maybe we could venture out of the electronics department and look in the old fashion game department, you know the ones were you have to sit face to face to play, were you have plastic game pieces and paper money. Or maybe this year when you are planning your Christmas party you could make it a mandatory Electronics Free Zone Party. No Phones, smart or otherwise, no iPads or other Wi-Fi connected devices. Maybe even have a few board games and deck of cards out, maybe you can even communicate directly to each other, you know face to face.. Just a thought….
Look for the opportunities to become electronic free, look for times you can be “Off the Grid” and enjoy the silence of no electronics in your life. Rediscover live that is Twitter free, learn to live a life of no Facebook, even if its for just a few hours per day, make rules for when the smart phones must become silent, establish a time with all OFF buttons must be in use. It can be done, my friends in Germany, they do something very radical, they turn off the power to there modem when they are done using the computer… They disconnect from the grid, and they survived! We can do it, I know we can, besides the benefit of not being connected to the web, you will also save energy… It’s a big step, and I admit, I am not there yet, but I am thinking about it. If I did do that, if I did turn the power off to my modem, not only would I not be able to surf the web, post my amazing input to Facebook, but I would also not be able to watch TV. My TV is run through my computer, I cut the cord and dished the dish years ago. The lack of internet would also turn my iPad into a very expensive e-reader and my books and magazines would become more accessible.
Now its true, its not very hard to turn it back on, but the process takes time, I would have to reboot the computer, log in and make sure all the programs are running that need to be running for my TV to work, to the time it takes would be a deterrent to just turning the TV on because I can. Its something to consider.
Lots to consider…