Thursday, February 1, 2018


Is it getting noisy around here or is it just me? I'm not referring to the literal noise that finds its way to our ears every day, but to the noise that happens in our media and on our electronics that we are constantly connected to.With so much technology at our fingertips today, we have opened ourselves up for a continual flood of information. What's the first thing you reach for when you wake (besides your glasses)? Except for some, most of you will answer that it's your phone. You check for missed calls, emails or Facebook posts. You might check your Instagram or send a "just woke up" Snapchat to a string of friends. For many, it's the new morning routine that doesn't end until you plug the phone back in just before falling asleep for the night.

It's great that we have so much at our fingertips, that is true. What would we do without all these apps that make our lives so much easier? I can't imagine using a paper map anymore or not being able to make or receive a call no matter where I am. I can do my banking, locate my children, get the latest sports scores, send emails, or get the latest news. I can also listen to my music, read or listen to a book or even watch T.V. or a movie. There's really not much that our phones can't do. But all these things it can do make it difficult to find some peace.

I remember when the high school my son attended decided to use Ipads as part of the curriculum. Every student received an Ipad and would use it to for educational purposes such as a replacement for their textbooks, a way to turn in homework and to enter chats regarding class content. At first, I thought this was a good idea. This would eliminate the heavy textbooks (more importantly, forgetting their books at school), and allow more connectivity to their teachers. But what I realized, over time, is that it made the students more connected to the device and its content and less connected to physical human interaction. No longer did they need to raise their hand in class to participate in a group discussion - they could just join the chat on the device. It seemed as though the students became more and more detached from human interaction and more attached to social media as a way of communicating. I even joked that the school would probably need to add a class on how to physically talk with one another now that the Ipad would be replacing that practice. Not only has personal device technology taken away the practice of physical intereaction, it is now the new norm of communicating and obtaining information, and with it manifested in their daily lives, it's almost impossible to turn it off.

Why do we need to tune out the noise? Noise only gets louder. When you're in a room and people start talking, the noise level begins to increase as the need to be heard increases. I think that goes for social media as well. My Facebook page seems to be filled with political rants that get more and more heated. Instead of people posting what's going on in their lives, they are spouting their anger which spawns more anger from others, increasing the negativity and noise on the page. As I scroll through, I can hear the shouting and I sometimes want to yell, "just shut up!" because the negative noise accomplishes absolutely nothing other than creating more anger. I miss the days when Facebook was just a nice place to visit to see pictures of cute puppies or friend's children doing adorable things. I guess that's why my kid's generation prefer Instagram because it's like the earlier version of Facebook.

So, to answer why we need to tune out the noise, it's clear. When it's quiet, we can hear our own thoughts and reflect on the best way to convey those thoughts. We no longer feel the need to shout over everyone else when the room is quiet. As a matter of fact, when the room is quiet, we sometimes don't feel the need to say anything at all. Negativity is all around us and if we listen, we can also become negative in our thoughts and words. Cutting out those things that deliver negativity or at least turning down the volume can help reduce the stress and frustration they create.

We all deserve some peace in our day so we can reflect on who we are and who we want to be. Do we want to be the loudest person in the room who riles everyone up or do we want to be the quiet one who, when we do speak, people actually listen? In today's angsty political climate, it might be hard to hold one's tongue, but I would like to believe more people would appreciate a quieter, more reflective room. I know I would like to see more pictures of babies and puppies and less about the negatives that surround us. Maybe, we all need to disconnect from social media and from the news from time to time and go do something that makes us happy and alters our negative thoughts into something productive. Don't like what's going on? Instead of complaining about it, do something about it. Feed the homeless, be a mentor to the disadvantaged, or go build a house for Habitat for Humanity. There is so much we can do to change the climate of our country that doesn't cost a cent - only our time.

Find the peace, be the one to quiet the room or excuse yourself from the room altogether and do something productive with your absence. It's not easy to disconnect in a world that is so easily accessible with just the touch of a button. But if we don't find some silence and solitude from time to time, we will lose ourselves in the noise of others.