Sound. It pervades my every waking moment. From the soft patter of the rain as I type, to the grating audio of hideously mixed music and vocals in the latest bit of social media garbage the talentless insist on inflicting upon us in a vain attempt to become ‘influencers’.
Perhaps my increasingly crabby views on the subject are a result of a growing presbyopia in which a quieter and more nuanced past seems to be yielding to a glitzy and noisy future. Much as I like to think crime is a growing issue as ‘in my day’ we could leave our homes unlocked without fear of pillage.
At times like this, Steven Pinker’s monumental book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, presses in on me to reveal an increasingly non-violent world. While a welcome sanity check in an otherwise partisan and vitriolic news cycle, it is challenging when the data seems to conflict with my senses.
Television off, notifications on ‘do not disturb’ and the rain on my window, revelation strikes as to why Pinker’s thesis is factually right but emotionally so wrong. Because as more and more media is generated, the drive for ‘views’ pushes content producers to find ever more shrill ways to stop me from scrolling. Perhaps this is the benefit of longer form blogging over ‘Insta’ style posts. As a writer, my goal is always to keep my reader scrolling or turning the page. This is because life is a journey which never stops even when we stand still. In acceptance of this, I find liberation from the temporal and fear not that a reader will move on from this paragraph.
But in the world of the infinite scroll, it is all about halting the natural process and keeping the viewer fixed in space. Perhaps in the end this is the heart of my distaste for much social media: it is designed to halt my thinking and focus my attention instead of stimulating my imagination and impelling me to think on. The only antidote is to mute the track, listen to the rain and allow my thoughts to run on as they will.
‘Good night and good luck’.