Follow this link if you want to read the original article as it appeared in my weekly newspaper column, “Denim Spirit”: http://www.fltimes.com/opinion/denim-spirit-sometimes-we-need-quiet-time/article_923526d4-19fe-11e7-917a-53f6ce0f7eaf.html
It is one thing to be at a family dinner table and everyone is excitedly talking at the same time, but it is altogether more annoying if it is a meeting and in every direction people are simultaneously exchanging thoughts and opinions. Isn’t that what we’ve come to in our culture?
We are entangled in an unending strand of multi-phonic, simultaneous communications shouting at us via text, cell phone, computer, twitter, snap chat, and even old school television, radio, and telephone. This becomes painfully clear when the person sending a text or email wonders what took us so long if we didn’t answer immediately. Worse yet, is when we are the one who has become impatient for the same reason.
I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeonly Luddite, but sending an electronic communication seems to have become tantamount to being present with them and demanding a person’s full attention. If I were to receive a phone call at my house (yes, I still have a land line) at dinnertime, there is a pretty good chance I would not answer it until after dinner unless it was one of my kids. That does not seem unreasonable, and you may have the same protocol. Why then, should we allow texting or anything else to be more intrusive? Why feel compelled to read it or answer it immediately?
I have begun quitting my mail server and silencing my phone when in the writing mode, but now I am wondering why not do it for periods of time when there are other things I want to get done? Why not “communications fast” at regular intervals during the day, in the same way I often intentionally turn off the radio while driving so that I can hear myself think? The world we created is quite a bit more noisy than the one before humans cluttered the earth, so reducing our contribution to sound pollution seems nearly as meaningful as reducing our carbon footprint.
Mind you, this is an extravert recommending periodic cessation of communication. We’re the kind of people who have to talk out loud in order to think. So if I am feeling this way, whoa, I can only imagine what you introverts must be feeling.
So declare your liberation!
There is absolutely no obligation to respond to any electronic communication immediately (unless of course it is authentically urgent and safety is involved). Inject free zones in your day, when you won’t listen for rings, beeps, pings, dings, or whooshes. Let it go to voice mail and listen to the message later, when peace of mind has already been temporarily lost.
Listen to the rain instead. Count the variety of birdsongs outside. Smile at the familiar whistle of your neighbor walking his or her dog. Identify that insect noise you always wondered about. Hear your own heart beat. It is then that the softer voices and thinnest whispers within us get to be heard.