As someone who is both a hypocrite and observer of their own hypocrisy, I find myself in constant need to get off social media. In the middle of the pandemic, when TikTok made itself known to the world, I couldn't help but spend six to eight hours watching mind numbing video after mind numbing video. And why did I do it?
I mean is that not the one thing we are all searching for? We are all searching for love, and connection, a place to belong. This is why Brené Brown now makes millions. She not only figured out the secret of life, but then she branded it and you too can have connection and courage for the price of 8.99-17.99 a book.
In the midst of the pandemic, we all got loud. About whatever we could. We were loud about our depressions, our anxieties, we were loud about our boredom. We were loud about our exhaustion. We have become loud about everything, from our morning coffee to giving birth. We are loud about moving and shaking. we are loud about hustling. We are loud about the millions of fears that creep into our heads daily. We are loud about our confusion. We are loud about ourselves. We are loud about each other.
As some might be aware by now, there is a form of torture called "Sound Torture," made popular by the U.S. Military during the Iraqi War, and for those detained at Guantanamo Bay. Yes there were loads of Rock metal used, at extraneous volumes, as a form of terror. But there was also the "I Love You," Song by everyone's favourite purple dinosaur. Which goes to say... it is not just the intensity of loudness that can torture someone, but it can also be the messaging. While " Enter Sandman," by Metallica on repeat can make anyone suicidal, so can the oh-so-affectionate reminder of affection, do the same thing. Suffice to say, it is the loudness that kills the mental psyche. The unperturbed loudness at massive decibels, constantly.
Is that not what we are doing all day, all the time to everyone we know, with our likes, our feeds, our posts? Are we not just screaming at the top of our lungs everything that is happening to us on a daily, minute by minute screech, hoping that each hit of dopamine, might mean that we crack?
Over the last six years, we have seen families split apart, based on differing opinions. We have seen people disregard each other, as crazies, or bleeding hearts, racists and misogynists. Tuning into the news is no longer understanding an update as to what is happening around the world, instead, it is all noise. Loud, unadulterated, ad-inspired, money-grubbing noise. At full volume. All the time.
So what does this all mean? Now that we can put a name to our torture, what do we do with this?
As someone who is constantly forcing themselves to walk a mile in other's shoes. Someone who is constantly trying to understand the context of the why behind an opposing opinion. As someone who has tried to be supportive to everyone, on both sides of the aisle all the time. I can feel everything going numb. Like my ability to hear, after being blasted for so long, has not only deafened me, but it has also all but severed my need for connection.
Perhaps this was what Susan Cain was discussing in her book Quiet. (Never got around to reading this, by all means let's revisit the first line of my own hypocrisy.) The need for everyone to stop being so loud about everything all the time. There was a time when people would experience something, or witness something, and they would keep it to themselves, because it was precious. it was theirs. I don't know very much of being a prisoner. But I can imagine, if I were a prisoner, I might want to reclaim something for myself. The way Andy DuFresne needed to a rock hammer. He needed to keep his midnight drillings a secret. It had to be his. Not just for the process to work. But he needed it for himself. He needed something to be his.
Lately, in the conversations I have had with close friends and loved ones ( Yes my connection still stands, despite the ever growing numbness, #hypocrite) There is a low rumbling.. of dissonance... irritation... a low fueled rage... bubbling underneath the surface.
Maybe it is time to embrace the rage. Maybe it is time, to fight the noise. Maybe it is time. to take a moment to delete the app, to unsubscribe. Maybe it is time to stop liking, to stop posting, to stop sharing, to stop screaming into the unimaginable abyss that is the internet. Maybe it is time, we find ways to connect...quietly.
Starting with ourselves. Find the dial in the prison cell, and turn the volume down. Allow yourself to think again. Allow yourself to feel again. Stop allowing everyone on twitter and facebook or Meta (insert eye roll). Instagram, snap chat, and Tik Tok. Stop all of it. Stop the noise.
Find your voice. Steady yourself. And let your own flame build. In the slow quiet way, a fire builds. simply, as a spark. Let the hatred and rage of burn. Let it burn the hillside. So you can move forward. So we can all move forward. As ourselves. In solitude, but also as a unit. As a quiet unit, Rising from the ashes of our own misery. Choosing to burn the village, to rid out the disease. Letting our flames of hate burn us all down.
Then we rebuild.