Why We Need More Silence And Less Noise

Nicolás Boullosa
Nicolás Boullosa

Association with the people we surround ourselves with is the reason why a lot of people get out of bed in the morning, but when taking a deeper look at the relationships between people, we can see the frivolousness that language has taken on. At one point it may have been more useful but now communication has become more of a barrier between people than a way to exchange ideas. The things that we hear in an average day cover a wide spectrum of topics and fluctuate through a broad variety of emotions. For example, sometimes we will hear gossip behind a person’s back and then see the gossiper and gossipee exchanging pleasantries later. Does this make the gossiping party a liar? Does it make them a good friend to see someone’s shortcomings and still associate with them? Or perhaps the gossiper is just a bad person making fun of people to get attention? No matter the reason behind the situation, spoken language creates a lot of questions when thrown around lightly and repercussions are not taken into account. This brings up the question of morality among people in America today and how they express the ethical codes that they abide by through spoken language. In fact, language has become unessential, through a lowering of ethical standards and a shift of what is regarded as important for happiness. Language has become moot and unchanging, and it would do us better if we got back to our roots of silence and a respect.

All throughout my academic career I have heard teachers tell their students “there is no such thing as a stupid question”, and I do not think I’ve heard any less true statements come out of a teacher’s mouth. Teachers should be pushing their students to ask legitimate questions and guiding them in the right direction; all too often kids are just looked over and disrespected for no apparent reason other than a teacher’s inability to teach and listen. The academic system in America has been on a steady downslide as time passes and as we advance technology becomes more prevalent and our toys get smarter; then, our people get dumber. America is lowering the bar for mediocrity. The improper schooling that people are given as children inhibits personal and mental growth later on, people become placid and accept their roles as inferior to other people and that there will always be someone better than them. Through coddling the youth and making sure no one’s feelings are hurt, America is turning its own populous into a bunch of uneducated, undeserving, mediocre, and irrational softies.

Diane Ravitch, an education historian and also assistant secretary of education during the Bush administration had a statement regarding the academics in America and the country’s population’s opinion toward it:

“We’ve been fretting about the American [education] system and looking enviously over our shoulders for decades, whether it’s to Germany, England, the former Soviet Union, Japan or China…”We have this narrative that we’re failing, failing, failing. The rest of the world would like to be like us, and we’re saying, ‘What’s wrong with us? We’re so terrible.’ It must be some kind of American inferiority complex.”

Ravitch is accurate in her perception that the American people’s perspective on academics is too negative, all the people seem to do is shame the country and says how it is not what it used to be in the “good old days.” Finland is regarded as the most academically successful country in the world and they based their previously shameful education system on America’s, however they put their teachers in a pedestal with respect levels equaling that of doctors and lawyers. If there was a push as a nation to raise up education as an important facet of life and respect those involved with it once more then as a country America might be able to start getting back on track.

Spoken language has been one of the main casualties of this seemingly self-induced academic downward spiral, with a country accepting mediocrity, the masses minds are left dormant and never challenged, and thus language becomes repetitive and unnecessary. When the mind stops striving for excellence it starts running on a treadmill and keeps cycling through the motions, so no new ideas are ever explored and personal growth is never achieved. People begin paying more attention to other people and events rather than discussing ideas or possibilities and paying attention to themselves. By accepting inferiority and only scratching the surface of human capability, people lose track of what is important. The human body becomes a lifeless husk with ever scanning eyes, to take in and discuss what it sees, which is what language has become; one person commenting on an observation and another giving their opinion back, typically an agreement or disagreement. The whole reason why this conversation took place was one person looking for personal social justification to bond with someone over an evil unity of gossip and personal misconduct.

For example, someone makes a statement about a passerby’s clothing to get a laugh from their friends but would not say the insult to the passing person’s face. This is an instance of a person saying something that would hurt someone else’s feelings to make themselves feel better, like a verbal vampire. There was no practical reason for those words to be uttered other than malicious intent and a lack of self-confidence brought about by an unfinished academic education and a constant observation of negative nationalism. This mental immaturity leads to gossip, an obsession over pop culture, and a driving desire for material things. If the majority of our people have been told they are great since day one and never strive to become better; then we are left with an adult population more concerned with technology and food than with each other, ethical human interaction, and a deep resounding inner happiness.

Materialism is running rampant in today’s society: Apple comes out with a new must have product every month; the next biggest TV comes out every two weeks; and the definition of swag, which is more important than happiness, is to not wear a pair of shoes more than once. It is cool to have the newest thing because that is where all the attention goes, if you were to walk into school with the newest phone everyone would be asking about it and asking for demonstrations. This has become the life blood of the average American. It is very rare to find someone so perfectly happy inside their own self-appreciation and self-worth that they don’t need to look for other people’s acceptance. However, this is the person that you should most like to talk to, the modest, humble, and quiet one in the back, where each word is few and far between but full of worth, like a hidden gem. That is because they do not need to go out of their way to look for social acceptance and likely have had the time to listen to plenty of opinions and formulate their own educated viewpoints. This leads to the most stimulating and insightful conversation because it is not simply drudging through a recitation of what 90% of the population is shown to say. Thus, just because someone is talking and making noise does not mean that it is because of importance to others, it is because of a perceived self-importance.

Spoken language was originally of great significance, emerging technologies and ways of survival were orally passed down from generation to generation and it was necessary for life and success. At this time period however, there were obviously different things in the forefront of society, most noticeably there was no pop culture or famous people to aspire to be like, there was no money and luxurious brands to indulge on, and there were no preconceived social norms that people were held to, the only things that were important were survival, happiness, loyalty, and a deep tie to spirituality. Also, there was a much stricter grasp of tribe morality, happiness and tribe success were the integral needs and no less was accepted, if you did not benefit the tribe you were killed or exiled. So the people only tended to important matters and did not have the time to gossip or pollute the air with empty noise, at least not at the absurdly high rate that it prevails in America today. Even before that humans functioned for a long time without any language and survived just as well as we have, taking time period into account.

In that time period with their tribal code it was not necessary to talk, there was a known way to act, an ethical standard per say. Each person within that tribe did the duty that they were taught how to do and expected to carry out, they acted how they were instructed, and they respected each other the way that they saw their family do before them. There was a much higher standard for what was an acceptable day to day behavior that is not held today, that low bar set in childhood sticks. The standard template of “the American Dream” observed by children today is incredibly personally detrimental; the idolatry that America promotes is full of drug addicts, sexual deviants, and money hoarders. The old mantra “monkey see, monkey do” appears to still be applicable today, as the youth turn into fully malfunctioning adults early now and let their opinions be known by the hurtful words they say.

The things that I have heard and the way that I have seen people treat each other through my years of schooling is disgusting at best, the treatment that children are shown when growing up must be demeaning. The way that a person acts and the things that they say are a reflection of the way that they see the world, so the negativity that the common person projects and makes known must be a reflection on the way that they see and experience the world and also how they see others react to their respective worlds. Thus through the pedestaling of the wrong cultural symbols and the improper way one’s shown to conduct one’s self ethically through mainstream visual stimuli, people are groomed to act and communicate in a careless and ruthless manner.

The way that people gossip and rumor about people creates judging and unjust opinions about fellow peers. These prejudices that we hold and relay to others to try and obtain social approval are hateful wildfire. Pain and hurt feelings are the inevitable spawn of gossip, broken bonds and lost friendships are soon to follow. “Treat others the way you would want to be treated”, that was beaten into me as a child, it is the basic rule of ethical conduct, if everyone was calm and nice when associating with one another, there would be a lot less global unrest. Instead, the common person has no grasp on empathy and instead acts like an overly excited bull in a china shop when going through life, with no personal regard for the others around them. People shout obscenities, degrade whole races, slander family, and lie over and over again in day to day conversation without a care of who hears or a thought of consequences. When in reality, if we overheard someone making fun of and demeaning us in passing conversation, we would be very upset, but if we do it about other people for personal validation it’s understandable and defendable. If people put more thought into and mulled over what they were about to say a few extra seconds before sputtering out their premature thought, less feelings would be hurt and people would function better together.

When prompted with the question of language as a necessity, most people would scoff at the idea of potential quiet and walking the walk in addition to talking less talk. When asked who is superior between animals and humans, most people would say humans. However, humans have a game called charades where they act out words and try to get a point across without talking, and from personal experience, it’s not easy. Animals live that life everyday with no actual language, but though visual, auditory, tactile, and chemical means. The fact that as humans we can understand that a peacock shows its colorful tail during “courting rituals” and a firefly glows to attract a mate goes to show that you do not have to talk to get the point across. Animals like elephants, whales, and wolves have different frequencies of calls for different reasons and the fact that we deciphered that is astounding and goes to show how different ways of communication are possible and should not be ruled out of the question for humans as well, seeing as how there are many ways to communicate an idea.

In a relatively recent study done by the University of Arizona in 2007, researchers conducted an experiment to see how many words the average Mexican and American male or female college student says a day. Both sexes’ results hovered around 16,000 words; women covered the high end with 16,125 words per day, while men spewed 15,669 words every day.

If there are 86, 400 seconds per day and the average person excretes 16,000 words a day, which is an average of one word every 5.4 seconds, assuming that our subject is up twenty-four hours a day. If we were to assume that an average person sleeps eight hours a day, which leaves 57,600 seconds in a day, keeping with the average of 16,000 ridiculous utterances a day, which is one word every 3.6 seconds. At this rate, I don’t know how people even find time to breathe. Also, how can there possibly be an important subject to be brought to the forefront so frequently?

Simple: There can’t be.

That means that most of these 16,000 words are just filler, people trying to break the perfect silence and convert all gazes onto themselves. What is wrong with silence nowadays? In a culture swarmed by electronic materialism, there is always some white noise in the background; it is never actually peacefully quiet anymore unless you go out of your way to find it. People have become desensitized to it but need that noise now, the deafening silence that is thrown around in so many clichéd written pieces nowadays must be true because people have to keep talking nonsense and speaking garbage to fill the wonderful quiet. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Related

More From Thought Catalog