2017.10.6 Quiet: Awkward Silence

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“The world is becoming progressively noisier, while quietness is being eroded. Our offices, homes and city streets are getting ever louder as we fill our lives with more machinery and electronics. We are bombarded by rising decibels from traffic, machinery, excavation, building works and air traffic. The explosion of mobile phones, computers and gadgets, in the hands of an ever-increasing population is engulfing us. The effects of noise on all of us are pernicious, even though the sources often go unchallenged.” – The Economist.

Not only is our physical world becoming noisier, for many of us, our minds are also.

I feel vulnerable calm in awkward silences

There was a speech given by social studies professor Sherry Turkle at the Aspen Ideas Festival called “The Social Downside to Technology” discusses the idea that we look to technology to reduce friction, particularly social friction. That we believe it is best not to “rub up” against people and create tension. We are looking for an easy life. “There is a tension, life was teaching us one thing and Life was teaching us another.” This takes us away from the pleasure of our personal life, and the importance of presence. Nowadays, people rather text the talk. On a personal level, it is difficult to relate to this. I need to hear one’s voice and expression is much more personal and easier to fully comprehend the topic of which they speak. But when I think about one of my sisters, I witness the amount of difficulty it is to talk on the phone. She prepares what she will say, and her voice is awkward and unsteady. And I’ve heard similar scenarios and opinions from my friends. There was a time I wondered why people prefer to stay behind their screens, literally and figuratively.

We want to avoid vulnerability. Thus the problem becomes: our relationships will not grow.

Why are we so scared of the awkward silence? Why do we avoid vulnerability?

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Last year in my literature class, our supervisor had given us many insightful ideas about the world and our thoughts. Something that resonated with me was when he told us, “don’t be afraid of awkward silence.” He explained that in the time of awkward silence, our brains are allowed to think. Often times when in an awkward silence, we gravitate toward our devices or talk about trivial and unimportant matters. Thus, stunting our creativity and relationships.

What would happen if our lives continued like this?

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“Silence is for me a fount of healing which makes my life worth living. Talking is often a torrent for me, and I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words.” -Carl Jung

Silence cannot be found from our outer being, but is sought inwardly.

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